This year Christmas was a bit unorthodox for me, not only did I work nearly ten hours non-stop, but after finishing I boarded the Sydney ferry to Manly Beach to celebrate Aussie-style with a couple of other orphan Sydneysiders.
Back home, my family Christmases have wavered over the years between eventful and quiet. The last of which was a full party at my Aunt and Uncle’s house (where I was living at the time) complete with cousins and friends. It was food filled, wine filled and tons of fun. Then last year I was introduced to a whole new way to celebrate Christmas. The Italian way. A way that included eating traditional Italian Christmas meals like tongue and hoof. Even though I was lost in a sea of language mishaps and unfamiliar words, I was still there in a warm house, sitting around a Christmas tree with a family that had grown to be mine over the previous year, and I felt like home. Although I missed the laughing antics of my own family, I didn’t feel homesick.
This year things were a bit different. I know that anyone who has even visited Sydney in the last month might stone me for saying it but the rainy days these past few weeks have actually been my saving grace. The kind of thing that could transport me straight home to Washington State where I spent every Christmas prior. Sitting behind the coffee bar in the hotel where I work, looking out over angry water of the Sydney Harbour as it reflects the grey clouds, was… comfortable.
The warmth of a freshly made latte in my hands at a time of year when my most often reoccurring thought is a classic, red holiday cup from Starbucks. It just defines Christmas for me. Just as it did last year as I traipsed around the frozen cobblestones of Prague’s old city, feigning that I knew the history and winding streets of the city as not to alarm my unsuspecting students and in the meantime forgetting that I was aware from home.
But this year, it was supposed to be summer, this year it would all change. Then, out of nowhere, just in time for Santa to ride off into it’s raging orange light, the sun came out and it beat down on the city in honor of the day. And I reveled in it. Toting a bottle of Chandon, fresh from the depths of the hotel storage fridge (a gift for my hard work) and a Cole’s bag with my first ever (albeit Cole’s Brand) Pavlova I boarded the ferry that would take me to my Christmas celebration. The beach was surprisingly sparse of activity, especially based on the massive amount of backpacks and DSLR cameras sitting around me during the journey but as we branched off to the right toward Shelley Beach, I saw where the action was. Shelley Beach, a tiny beach which sits on a curve sheltering it from the strong sea winds is a prime spot to enjoy the sun in Manly. Complete with a grassy hill, BBQ spots and nearby bars and cafes it is a favorite place to set up for the day and enjoy what Sydney does best.
Lorenzo and I were late to the party so we had a beer, a glass of champagne and a couple of sausages and enjoyed getting to know our fellow orphans. A long day at work and a couple of hours in the sun meant we were on the 8:45p.m. ferry back to the city in time for bed, but the day was still a success in my book. Especially considering the alternative; sitting alone in a huge empty house staring at our tiny (although lovely) Christmas tree with presents that weren’t ours and eating leftover ragu. It was a great way to spend Christmas Eve night but for a second time in a row I think it would have been simply depressing.
I did envy the fabulous endless glasses of sparkling and the plump, fresh Sydney prawns, oysters and Balmain bugs that my customers were enjoying while I ran frantically from table to table refilling their glasses, but maybe Lorenzo and I will save that for our next Aussie Christmas, when we have real jobs and real money.
Until then, I successfully logged another cultural, away-from-home Christmas without my family, without my pumpkin spice lattes and halfway around the world. It’s easy to miss your family around the holidays, but then again it’s all part of the experience.
Another fantastic addition to spending Christmas in Australia? Boxing Day. Great holiday pay for me working and just another public holiday to chill out on the beach for those with real jobs.
What did you do this Christmas and Boxing Day?