Christmas Down Under
Adjusting Christmas family traditions while on the road can be a challenge. For most of December I found it difficult to imagine that Christmas was approaching. Nothing about the lead up to Christmas felt familiar. We hadn’t really celebrated Thanksgiving. We missed Chanukah entirely (oh my beloved latkes!). The stores in Australia had occasional Christmas references, but it is nothing near the all out Christmas extravaganza / deluge that engulfs every retail establishment in the United States. The decorations were at best understated and I don’t think I heard Christmas music playing anywhere. It was alternating between warm and hot during the day – not things I associate with the days before Christmas. I am from New England so all of our Christmases were cold even if they rarely qualified as a “white Christmas”.
It turns out that the preparation and anticipation of Christmas is a sensory experience for me and the absence of the usual stimuli made it easy to forget its approach.
We did feel it was important to make some effort to celebrate the day given that we have two 5 year olds that were eagerly anticipating its arrival.
We knew that having a tree would be impractical given that we were unsure of where would be spending Christmas. I saw a suggestion online to create a felt tree and then make the decorations. I loved the idea. We already had a tradition of spending an afternoon making felt ornaments every year with the kids, so this year we just added a tree and stockings to the creation process.
The boys were concerned at times about whether Santa would be able to find them so far from home. We reminded them that they had celebrated Christmas in many different places in the US in previous years, which helped a bit. The tree was – felt or not – was very reassuring about the red guy’s impending arrival. And the thing that finally warmed the boys to the idea of Christmas in Australia was the realization that they would get to open their presents many hours (16 hours in fact) ahead of when they would otherwise get them in New York.
Keeping the presents hidden was also a huge challenge with the kids. There are very few places to hide things when the sum total of our storage space is the back of the car and a few drawers on the trailer. We decided to do the small bit of shopping at one stop and then mail the gifts ahead to the our Christmas destination. (By the time we mailed them, we had decided to spend Christmas in Bright, VIC)
Our usual Christmas Eve meal of beef and cheese fondue was replaced by grilled steaks.
Once the kids were settled in the cabin that my mom had generously rented for us for Christmas, the camper trailer became the ideal wrapping location once the kids were settled into bed on Christmas Eve.
Our Christmas Day menu was an attempt to be Aussie-ish. We had a lamb roast with Wombok salad and then a Christmas pudding for dessert. Not sure whether we hit the mark, but it was a noble effort on our part given that we are used to foods much more cold weather friendly on Christmas.
I wish we had been able to magically transport to be with the rest of our friends and family to celebrate the holidays as that is the part I missed the most, of course. I feel fortunate that we were able to celebrate a lovely, warm Christmas day with my mom who made the trip here to be with us.
I hope all of you whether celebrating a warm or cold Christmas or none at all are enjoying a relaxing week!