real life

A humorous and emotional guide to spending your first Christmas away from home.

First problem, it’s cold. And that, by any Australian standard, is not at all in the Christmas spirit.

I realise my good fortune (also sheltered?) that I’m older than 25 and this is my first Christmas away from home. Also that I am able to have a Christmas away from home in the first instance.

But there we have it. It’s cold. There are real live Christmas trees on street corners. There is no one who will call me by my childhood nickname, and everyone keeps looking at me like I’m crazy when I say I want to go swimming. 

It all appears as if it’s out of a movie. Beautifully manicured and a world away (quite literally) from a normal hodge-podge Christmas affair in the backyard of a family member’s house where the sweat dripping down my back is in concert with the condensation on my glass, and the ice in the esky is definitely melting despite our best efforts at persuading it not to.

Here, there’s no esky needed and outside is definitely not an option.

LISTEN: Is it ever appropriate for a family member to invite you for Christmas lunch, then charge $50 a head? We discuss, on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues after. 

There is no brother to argue with about who will make the salad and who will do the dishes. I’m attempting to find a replacement – someone who is tall and loud and will clutch upon every conversation as an opportunity for disagreement. But so far, no one has been quite as beautifully though infuriatingly engaging.

I’m also trying to find a mother, who might wake up early – before anyone else – and not-so-subtly pace the house so we might get to the gift exchange already.

Christmas in Australia. Getty.

No one knows about the trick that is mixing sorbet with champagne and having it for brunch.

I'm attempting to find my aunt's rum balls. But every taste seems to be lacking the rum potency she somehow achieves.

As tradition has it, I must find at least two Christmas puddings, from two different family members, and spend the entire lunch comparing them both. This one has the cherries, this one doesn't. Caity, you're a freak if you like the cherries. You're a freak if you don't.

Wait a second, why is none of the meat cold?

For the purpose of true authenticity, it's probably best to find an uncle who will fall asleep mid-lunch.

And another who will have a lengthy, annual conversation with my dad, about the efficiency of the webber versus the barbecue

I am determined to wear swimwear. In front of the fire if I have to.

And someone, somehow will have to break out a cricket set.

There are no beach pinecones under bare feet. No sand in all the wrong places. And no comments from grandparents about my relationship status or whether or not I'm considering having children.

I must find a cousin who tells funny jokes. And a nephew who will dress like spiderman.

It's all so potently irreplaceable. But oh, it's a lovely realisation.