Having grown up in Canada, the Christmas season is usually accompanied by a few key ingredients:
1) Decorations Galore
2) Sales and Shopping Frenzies
Now I must note that had I not grown up in a big metropolitan area, maybe the advent of decorations galore and harrowing shopping frenzies would be less pronounced. However snow (or at least cold weather) is somewhat non-negotiable when you talk about a Canadian Christmas.
Here in Australia, in the rural countryside no less, the Christmas season is…well…is it even Christmas? I can’t tell.
Let’s talk about decorations. I used to love driving down certain streets in my home town to admire how the houses are decorated so festively. (I must admit that the blatant usage of power for outdoor Christmas lights no longer seems right to me, but then again I think I may have become something of an “eco-snob” since living on a sustainable property in Hawaii. I make no judgment about the actions of others; I simply can’t bear to do certain things myself).
But living out here in the rural countryside, neighbours are as far as kilometers away. It is not until you drive into town (and by “town”, I mean TOWN) to see any sign of Christmas decorations, and even then, they are sparse. A token wreath or two dons the main street, and less than half the houses are adorned with seasonal decorations.
In speaking with a few people from town, this is not the norm. Aside from the last few years, the Christmas season has usually had lots more “get up” to go with it. What has changed? Dunno. Maybe it’s the economy…probably not. I’m going to go with general apathy on this one. At least that’s how I’m feeling about the Christmas season this year. Apathetic.
Let’s talk about shopping. Although the stores in town are doing their best with a few sales and Christmas promotions, I would also wager that many residents are instead doing their Christmas shopping in Melbourne (2 hours away), where there is a much greater selection and often better pricing. And heck – if fighting over parking spots at shopping centres and muscling your way through throngs of desperate last-minute shoppers doesn’t invigorate the Christmas spirit, nothing will.
Another common shopping technique (at Christmas time and otherwise) for people living in the country is the online kind. Ebay seems to be the forum of choice in Australia, and although I am still not interested in babysitting last-minute bids on imminently closing auctions, I have occasionally bought a few items through Ebay. Having something delivered to your door (or at least the nearest post office 5kms away, as is the case where we live) is much easier than driving for hours into the city to search for the perfect gift.
Now, for the snow. Here in Australia, we’re fresh out of snow at this time of year. It is officially summer here, although you wouldn’t exactly know it; I’ve yet to experience some of this legendary Aussie heat which I’m promised – with dread – will be upon us soon enough. No, instead of snow being the sure sign that Christmas is upon us, the festive omen of Christmas in Australia…are you ready for this?….is cicadas chirping. Yup – nothing like a little relentless buzzing in your ears to give you the ol’ Santa spirit.
So when people back home ask me if I’m ready for Christmas, my reply is simple. If being ready for Christmas means doing absolutely nothing at all, then heck yes – I’ve been ready all year!
Note: In all seriousness, we are looking forward to spending Christmas with some Aussie friends who have their Canadian relatives visiting. We will get to experience a hybrid Australian-Canadian Christmas in true style; kids and all.