Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

A Christmas letter to Sparkly

I have this friend called Sparkly Sparks who blogs on Yahoo 360. You might think it strange to have a friend called Sparkly but it isn’t, not really. I am Lizziejane to Sparkly We are both writers, that’s how we met, and we also share the enormous privilege of being Hanner Cymraes (that means half Welsh by the way, in case you were wondering). We made a deal, my friend Sparkly and me. I would tell her about Christmas in Australia if she told me about her Christmas in London. Well it is Christmas Eve and with a big hello to Sparkly, I thought I would set the scene.

What you need to understand about Christmas in Australia is that it is a summer thing: a season of peaches and cherries and strawberries, of salads and cool drinks, ice cream and air conditioning. The Festive Season starts way back in November when we turn our clocks back. The weather warms as daylight lengthens and the parties begin. It is not just a Christmas Season. It is also the end of the academic year. Exams are finished and students are celebrating. There are end of year concerts and BBQ’s. Carols by candle light is an outdoor, picnic-in-the-park event. By the last week in December the whole country is winding down for holidays at the beach.

But before we can go on holidays we have to do the Christmas thing. This year we have had two days of torrential rain in the lead up to Christmas. We have jumped puddles and dashed from door to door under dripping umbrellas. We have pulled moth balled cardigans out of the bottom drawer all with an extreme confidence that the rain is temporary. Today Christmas Eve the sky is full of soft scudding clouds tomorrow the sky will be blue from end to end. Lawns are mowed and gardens trimmed the roads are busy and the shops are packed as people make their last minute purchases.

Last night my Mum and I went to the Melbourne Welsh Church. We had a service of lessons and carols in English and Cymraeg. It is the first time we have done this and I think it will become a tradition. The Chapel was packed and as the Reverend Sion Goch Hughes lead us in worship, the hwyl was amazing. For that is the other thing about Christmas in Australia. It is a migrant thing, a time of absent friends, of crackling phone calls and distant family; a sometimes displaced sensation of seasons back to front, a time for drawing together and remembering…

I will write more later, but for now to my friend Sparkly and to all my friends on Blogger and Yahoo 360, Nadolig Llawen which is Merry Christmas, by the way, in the language of Heaven.

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2 Comments

  1. Merry Christmas, Liz!

  2. sparkly

    Entry for 25 December 2007 As promised to my new friend Lizzie Jane
    My Christmas in London.

    London has been around for rather a long time and Londoners are loath to throw anything away, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, goes the saying, in fact we have structures going back to the Romans, people just built on to them.

    Why am I telling you this? Well I’ll tell you, I have been shopping this week, not once, not twice but half a dozen times along with the other seven and a half million Londoners, at times it seemed we were all in the same supermarket at the same time and I know for a fact they tried to park in the space I wanted.

    To add to the crush the weather has been a bit odd, Lizzies description of her Australian Christmas weather had me green with envy. Here it is wet, cold, foggy, icy and sometimes windy and that’s just this week. Getting back to the Romans, space has always been precious in London and there has always been shops so no doubt the Christmas crush has been going on since then but to fully appreciate the reason why it happens you need to take a look at our streets, few go in a straight line and every generation of Londoner has left their mark on the city and we are still using those streets, sure they repair them, it makes them bumpy.

    So what are we doing in the city? Christmas is not contemplated until that new American import Halloween is out of the way, we have always had Halloween just not the shopping that goes with it, then it’s boomsticks and cauldrons out and santa’s in, that’s when the lead up begins. Oh you will always have those sensible folk who buy in January and throughout the year but they are in the minority, most of us just go crazy at the last minute.

    There are dinners and parties, posh ones and raves all slotted in between life and life moves fast here. Not a day passes that you don’t hear alarms, car, ambulances, police cars, and there’s the homeless, and children that have run away from home hoping that they can hide a while in London, it’s not the place they expect, London is a grown ups city, but the birds still sing in the tree outside my window at two in the morning and kind people go out with food and blankets. It sounds hard, it is but it’s also wonderful and alive.

    When we have shopped till we dropped and prepared the Christmas dinner. Then there is midnight mass, attended very often by people who will not enter another church until next Christmas but also by exhausted ordinary people who wouldn’t want to miss it.

    I am in London for my family but I miss my Welsh village where life moves at a far more sensible pace but I will write London part two soon so polish your spectacles in anticipation.

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