Well it’s already Christmas morning in Australia! And, no. Down the lane snow is not glistening, sleigh bells are not ringing, and nary a whiff of frankincense. (Okay, granted. That last one would have been hard to come by back home too.)
I’ve remarked before how similar I find Australia and the US. But the vast ocean between us, and the shear amount of time between our common founders have created some differences. The Aussies have retained the words “bloke” and “mate.” We Americans retained more of the “stiff upper lip” of the English. We got the short end of the stick. This is evidenced by what I’ve seen so far at Christmastime. In the US Christmas is an almost somber time. A time for being with the family, building a fire, reflection, singing hymns. Here in Australia it seems to be a time to don goofy Santa hats or reindeer antlers and wear them in public. I had to go to the grocery store yesterday. The sweet potatoes were lying unnoticed in the produce section as everyone walked around the store with a case of beer under their arms.
In the US, if you were to go to a restaurant on Christmas Eve you were either Jewish or chronically alone and without friends. I am the latter. But! I was actually invited out last evening by a great group of guys. I have purchased an expensive ticket to a New Year’s Eve party on the Harbor (more about that in a later post). I had so much trouble getting a credit card to work on the website that I actually became acquainted with the event organizer, Adam, through mobile phone and email. Once we got everything straightened out he called and invited me to dinner with he and his friends on Christmas Eve. Even though I realized I was likely a charity case for the first time in my life, I was delighted.
I didn’t relish the idea of spending Christmas Eve home alone. But nor did I relish the idea of spending it in a bleak restaurant with other people that had nowhere to go, but the restaurant did seem the better of the two so I went. I couldn’t believe how busy the streets were, how bustling the eating and drinking establishments were, the good mood everyone was in. I couldn’t have been more wrong and as a bonus I got to meet Adam, David, Nick, and Bruno. All funny and witty blokes…I mean guys.
But some things are sacred. The reason I went to the store yesterday was to buy a chicken that I plan on roasting today. I’ve got some sweet potatoes too. These should make for a familiar Christmas sight, sound, and smell to me. But not the Aussies. They will be at the beach or in their backyards throwing something on the barbie. And I suppose getting rid of some of that beer they lugged home yesterday.