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Who Needs Snow? A Sydney Christmas

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Given the general dismal run-up to Christmas in terms of wind and rain, expectations on the weather front were particularly gloomy, so this Christmas Day in Sydney dawned like the best of gifts. It was a perfect hot and sunny Sydney summer’s day, and we spent the first part of the morning down at our local beach in the company of what seemed like half the world and returned salty and sandy for Christmas lunch with friends. The toast we traditionally have at the start of the meal is “To Absent Friends,” and it always makes my eyes prick as I think of our families and friends spread out around the world, but then I think how lucky we are to be all sitting together round the table with good friends in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.
 
One of the many things I love about Sydney is the way Christmas is the start of the five-week long summer holidays. You slide gently from Christmas into the New Year festivities, crowned by the midnight fireworks that punch the city skyline in multicolored celebration, and then once they’ve woken up to 2012, it feels as if the population of Sydney takes off to beach houses, tents, and parents’ places up and down the coast until Australia Day on January 26th heralds the start of the new school year and a serious back-to-work moment.
 
As I am now in totally indolent holiday mood, I couldn’t come up with twelve questions of Christmas – but thought six was pretty good for the season of goodwill and general forgetfulness.
 
1. Why is it not just the ham that takes on a glazed look as the moment of Christmas lunch approaches and I realize that—yet again—I have forgotten that roast potatoes take a ridiculously long time when you are working in catering amounts appropriate for a small army?
2. Why do I always do a panicked last-minute shop on Christmas Eve without checking the fridge, and thus end up with approximately four lots of open cream?
3. Why did the normally reliable Australia Post suddenly throw a wobbly this year, with the result that we are having an extended Christmas with parcels and cards trickling in? The upside is that it feels as if Christmas is a celebration that goes for weeks—a feeling enhanced by my enthusiastic approach to leftovers, which leaves me thinking of publishing a book entitled “Creative Ways with Ham.”
4. How was it possible for me to forget that I had squirreled away various presents in obscure places, such as my sock drawer?  And how come I always find them on the 27th thus contributing to the extended holiday giving season.
5. What evil genius at Cadbury came up with the brilliant idea of stuffing all the spare Turkish Delights and Cherry Ripes into the “Favorites” box—does anyone actually like those things? Is it only my house that the Crunchies, Flakes, Dairy Milks, and Picnics vanish at the speed of light, leaving the rejects sitting mournfully at the bottom of the box until I have a 2 a.m. desperate-for-chocolate moment and lunge at them?
6. How could I not have discovered “Luxury Vanilla Custard” before? As I polished off the remains of a carton last night with some spare Christmas pudding, I particularly liked the serving instruction that having gone through helpful hints about serving it hot or cold, ended up pointing out that you could also just eat it straight out of the carton with a spoon—which of course was exactly what I was doing by that point. 
 
I hope you too had a wonderful Christmas wherever you are. A friend endeared herself to me by saying that she thinks 2012 will be both hers, and my year—and I am very taken by this idea. So here’s to 2012, and may it be your year too!

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