19 December 2009

Upside Down Christmas

It's funny the things we do here at Christmas. We buy fir trees, decorate them with sparkly lights, and listen to wintery music. We eat roast potatoes and turkey and fruit cake with brandy butter. We accept without question the pictures of Santa flying about with his reindeer through snowy landscapes. But outside the garden is filled with purple hydrangeas and hot pink camellia, and strawberries are on sale by the side of the road, three punnets for $5.

I grew up with images of Christmas straight out of British schoolgirl annuals. The children wore knitted Fair Isle jumpers and hats with earflaps. They made snowmen with carrots for noses, drank hot chocolate, and said hello to cheeky robins in snowfilled gardens. In hot sandy New Zealand we burned and blistered, oblivious of anything called a hole in the ozone layer. We ate fruit salad, beetroot slices and corn straight from the tin. We went on long journeys in the old Holden station wagon, all the way from Wellington right up to 90 Mile Beach (what a great name), bickering and sweating and sometimes puking right there on the side of the road.

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