Most people’s first reaction when I announced, “I’m leaving for warmer climates, ciao!” was, ‘but you’ll be gone over Christmas?‘
After a while it began to irritate me, so what if I was gone for Christmas? I just couldn’t get my head around why people would even think about it. I would be gone for birthdays; what makes Christmas so special?
It wasn’t until Christmas day came that I realised what it meant for travellers.
When you’re abroad your finances are your number one priority, therefore it came naturally for Alex and I to decide to not buy each other anything for Christmas. And honestly, this felt liberating. There was no stressful shopping, no last minute dash on Christmas eve, and I can honestly say there was not once that my brain felt over worked in the run up to Christmas.
Once the idea of presents was removed from Christmas, I began to understand it’s importance as a day for family in a way that I hadn’t before. I didn’t want material gifts, I wanted to see my family. Even if someone had given me one it wouldn’t make me feel any better.
Oh, and it also meant that we could spend more on food, which was so good I can’t put it into words.
Knowing that I was missing the one day of the year that my family make an effort to be together made me feel terrible. Seeing my Grandma cry on Skype was probably one of the worst moments of my life.
Being abroad at Christmas was a killer that I had never prepared for, and totally changed my perception of the festive season. On the one hand, it totally sucked to be so out of touch with my family, but on the other hand I felt like I had grown up some what, and wouldn’t take Christmas and family time with a pinch of salt again.
An Australian Christmas
So what did I do on Christmas day? Everyone back at home was dying to know how Aussies spent Christmas day, given that the heat in Melbourne hit 38 degrees. Although the Christmas spirit is no less intense, there is definitely a more laid back feel.
The shops were manageable, and not hectic like you would associate with the UK/US. Food revolves around ham and a good ol’ BBQ (although I did miss stuffing considerably). As it was just Alex and I, we decided to go to the beach, thinking that it would be quiet. Nope – the population of Melbourne apparently turned out for some sun and sand too, and we were surrounded by couples, friend groups, and extended families alike.
Australian beaches are like nothing that I have ever seen before. The water is clean and clear, and a shade of blue that I had only seen in pictures.
Did it feel Christmassy? Heck no. But did I have a new perspective on it? Yes, completely.
I hope everyone had a lovely time with their families, and if you are also on the road like me, then I hope you had a great time wherever you were. Best wishes for the new year!