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Torfaen Tales

Christmas in Australia

Christmas in summer never really made sense to me, so I am glad that I now live in the Northern hemisphere where we have Christmas in winter. I have never had a barbecue on the beach for Christmas dinner, but I expect a number of people living in Australia have done so. I remember helping my grandmother one year to cook Christmas dinner in her tiny little kitchen on a very hot day. She had a hangover, possibly the first in her life after a party at one of her neighbours the night before. Her head was splitting but she insisted on doing a proper dinner despite the heat.

However the Christmas I remember most is when I was invited to share the festive feast with my cousin Julie and her family. She lived at the time on a farm about 100 miles from Melbourne. I travelled up to wherever it was with her sister Linda the day before. As well as Julie’s family, Linda and myself, the girls’ parents (my aunt and uncle) had come to stay. Goodkness knows how she managed to accommodate us all, but I remember sleeping in a bed in a room of my own. Perhaps her two boys top and tailed in one bed for the night, the sort of thing kids really enjoy doing as they can talk and giggle late into the night. What I do remember is that it was unseasonably cold. All I had was a skimpy little nightie, and I ended up taking a pop bottle of hot water wrapped in a jumper to bed, an improvised hot water bottle, in an attempt to keep warm, as well as wearing socks and another jumper.

We awoke on Christmas morning to another cold day. The sky was grey, and a chill wind had whipped up. Even worse, I woke up with the beginnings of a cold. My nose was streaming and I had not enough tissues, handkerchiefs or anything to mop up with. I felt chilled, achey and pretty disgusting.

Dinner time rolled around, and Julie, expecting a hot day, had prepared cold turkey and salad. She followed this with vanilla ice cream with dried fruits stirred in, a sort of frozen Christmas pudding. I pushed my dinner around my plate. What I could really have done with in my fragile state was a good hot meal.

Then my cousin Linda had a ‘phone call from her husband. At the time they lived on a large plot of land in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the middle of the state of Victoria. They were assembling a collection of animals in readiness for opening an animal park which they ran for a number of years. Stephen was ringing to say that a fox or some other predator had managed to get into the deer enclosure and had savaged a number of their animals, involving at least one of them having to be put down.

This put us all in a despondent mood. I didn’t feel like staying any longer, and when Linda left I had a lift with her as far as Melbourne where I was living at the time. I spent Christmas night and the next few days in an empty house as my house mates had gone to their respective families. That was probably the most miserable Christmas I have ever spent, and the memory of it makes me thankful for the warm and wonderful Christmases I now have in Wales in the comfort of my own home.

By Karenne Griffin

Last Modified on: 05-11-2015

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