Happy (sunny) Christmas!

After my second ever summer Christmas Day, it’s now Boxing Day here and I’m on my way to Melbourne to watch more Ashes action. Skipping day one, and as I’m currently on a plane I can’t even check up on how it’s going. Perhaps for the best…?

Summer Christmas was delightful, if somewhat odd. I missed being with my parents and brother, of course. However, this was reduced by being able to FaceTime – technology is a LOT better than when I last did overseas Christmas 11 years ago. But my homesickness was confined pretty much to missing people since my aunt does a very similar Christmas lunch to what I’m used to at home – turkey with all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pud and brandy butter – but since it was 25 degrees and sunny in Auckland, we ate it in the garden under big parasols. Eating a big, heavy, hot meal that isn’t a BBQ outside around a relocated indoor dining table did feel slightly strange, but of course I gladly tucked in, and enjoyed a few glasses of NZ wine too!

It isn’t just the roast dinner that I’m not sure is perfectly suited to the antipodean climate at this time of year. Father Christmas still wears his woolly red suit (including the huge one on the Farmers department store in Auckland), and many Christmas cards and wrapping paper designs feature snow and wintry scenes that most Aussies and many kiwis will never experience, let alone at Christmas. I guess with the first foreign settlers here being British, it’s no surprise that they brought their Christmas customs with them, and more recently I guess winter Christmas has been perpetuated by US and UK television being dominant. With my English born and bred aunt being the main cook in her family, she brought her own family traditions when it comes to the food, including our slight quirks like crispy bacon with white wine before the main event. An Australian Facebook group (with a loose theme of books and baking, centred around the excellent podcast Chat 10 Looks 3) that I’m a member of has displayed a lot of photos of and recipes for pavlovas and salads for barbecues over the last few days, and I think my Australian family does things quite differently from the Anglo-Kiwi side, so I may need to give that a whirl next year! I’m very lucky that, although I now live on the other side of the world, I have a choice of family to spend Christmas with!

I survived my first ever Christmas without a stocking (yes, yes, I’m thirty-four years old…) but was delighted that my parents sent a couple of presents over with my aunt (after she was in the UK for Granny’s funeral) to open with those received from family over here. They also gave me a voucher for a BBQ cooking school, just to make sure I fully ingratiate myself in Aus! The weight removed from my bag by giving Australian alcohol to NZ family has been well and truly replaced by lots of chocolate presents (especially feijoa chocolate, since I love feijoas and they are hard to get outside NZ), not to mention the two bottles I bought in duty free to restart my spirits collection after I had to get rid of my collection back home by a combination of drinking, giving away and storing in my parents’ house. More on the joy of Australian customs restrictions to come in the future I’m sure…

In the meantime, raising a glass (cup of Air New Zealand tea) to my family and friends at Christmas, wherever in the world they are!

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