This month I've decided to tell you all about Christmas in Australia for the December Travel Linkup. It's so very different to Christmas in the UK, and I wanted to share some of my memories and photos with you all. I first had Christmas in Australia when I was seven years old, I thought it was wonderful sitting outside on Christmas morning while Uncle Gray cooked us all a big full English. We opened presents and spent the day in and out of the pool while Christmas songs played on the hi-fi system.
When we moved to Australia it was very strange having our first Christmas there as 'locals'. In England we always had a real tree, but oh no, you can't get those in Perth, so off we went to Target to buy a fake one - along with boxes of decorations and tacky tinsel to make it feel more homey. Our usual huge pile of Christmas presents was replaced by a small pile of carefully chosen and sent-over gifts by our closest family members. But I didn't care about the presents that Christmas, I was just so blissfully happy to be living the dream in my favourite country.
On Christmas Eve we did the classic British expat 'going to Cottesloe beach to try and get on GMTV' (which naturally no longer happens as GMTV is no more). It was weird being surrounded by so many British accents again as most Brits live up north or down south, rather than in the west-coast suburbs where we lived.
My brother was not impressed....
....My parents had a whale of a time, however...
We had our full cooked breakfast in the morning outside in the garden, the sun blazing onto us already in the low 40's. Then we opened presents while National Lampoons Christmas Vacation played on TV. Our main family present was a giant practice surfboard. Only in Aus eh. (warning: photos of my 16-year-old self below).
Mum insisted on cooking a full roast dinner despite a house with no air-con and the outside air temperature reaching a stifling 46°C. While it was cooking we went down to the beach for an hour, and swimming in the ocean on Christmas day was a little surreal to say the least.
Eating our dinner was hard work, the last thing you want when it's so hot is hot food! Then it was time for a dip in the pool to cool off for the evening before we settled down to watch Christmas films and phone our family in the UK who had just woken up.
My friend Beth and her family from the UK came to visit us over Christmas (although they stayed in a rental house and we had separate Christmas', seeing each other on boxing day and NYE etc), and they loved having a Christmas in the sunshine!
My next 'alternative' Christmas in Australia was when I went back in 2010 to visit my then boyfriend. I'd moved back to England at the end of 2008, so we did long-distance from then until 2011. We saw each other 4 times a year for about 6 weeks at a time, and it was my turn to go back over there for Christmas. It was my very first Christmas away from my family, but his family were like a second family to me and treated me like their own. They didn't do as much 'family' stuff as mine, as Australian culture is quite focused on friends, so we spent most of the festive period with our friends, on the beaches and in the pool.
This was one of my favourite Christmas's and I have some of my favourite memories from those few weeks. 2010 was a horribly tough year for us with some very sad losses of people close to us, so to have that perfect Christmas together after such a horrible year was wonderful and a lovely end to the year.
His family only had a tiny little Christmas tree, and so we went out and I bought them a 'proper' big 7ft tree and all the decorations to go with it. I made the house as festive as possible - and then the kitten decided it would be a really fun idea to jump straight onto the small tree on the sidetable, and then hilariously fell backwards still clutching the tree so it fell on top of her.
Chris's mum was an awesome cook, so on Christmas eve we had a full roast dinner, and then dessert was Christmas pudding with the biggest vat of custard I have ever seen!
On Christmas day we did presents and had seafood. We spent the afternoon on the beach, and then went to put some handpicked flowers from the garden on his grandparents' grave.
On Boxing Day our friends came over and we played Marco Polo in the pool with the new underwater camera, and just chilled out.
That NYE was even more perfect, Anna came over and we chilled in the pool, then the guys came over in the evening and we all played poker and blackjack, had some drinks and food, and then wandered up to the lookout to watch the fireworks set off over the city below us. It was magical. So simple, yet so perfect. I'll never forget the feeling of sitting on top of that hill with my favourite people, gazing across the winding swan river towards the City, fireworks overhead. I miss my Aussie days, but I'm so so lucky to have had such amazing times to miss so much, and I have so many more memories to make when I go back for my yearly trip in March 2015!
The one bad thing about Christmas in Australia though? They have shit mince pies.
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