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.