Luke and I departed New Zealand early on the morning of the 22nd of December. We were both looking forward to getting home but Melbourne was still a week away – first we were stopping in Orange to stay with my family for Christmas, then on to Albury for a couple of nights to stay with Luke’s family. It’s rather handy that Luke’s parents live about half way between Orange and Melbourne rather than in a completely different direction.
I have a small family and therefore our Christmases are fairly quiet affairs. There’s Mum and Dad, my brother’s family of four and me. This was to be the first Christmas at my brother’s new house and the first time he’d cooked Christmas dinner. It was also Luke’s first Christmas away from his family.
A few of my foreign friends have remarked on how strange it must be to have Christmas in summer, but fortunately this year the weather was fairly cool and rainy – Orange is almost always in drought so rain is generally something to celebrate. Michael did a fantastic job with lunch, cooking turkey breasts, pork and roast vegetables and Mum contributed our traditional jar of pickled walnuts. I don’t know how many of the people reading this are likely to have tried pickled walnuts but they’re quite an acquired taste. It took me 30 years of tasting them every Christmas before I could enjoy them but now I go through several jars a year.
Another tradition with my family is seafood. We always snack on prawns during the day on Christmas. I’m used to prawns being steamed – I was so disappointed in Louisiana when they were always served battered and deep fried. What a waste!
We all enjoyed Christmas day, and I was amazed, as always, to see how much my nephew has grown. Izaac seems to morph into a new person every time I see him. Last time he was barely talking, this visit I could barely keep up with what he was saying. His half-brother, Ethan, becomes more and more mature by the year and is not far away from high school. There’s nothing like the growth of children to mark the passage of time.
Apart from spending time with family our trip to Orange also included a night in Bathurst visiting our friend Geoff and my annual trip to the berry farm, where I picked several kilos of strawberries. There are some things Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without, and a pile of fresh fruit is high on my list.
I hope all of our readers and friends out there had a great Christmas in 2013 and I’d love to hear about what makes Christmas special for you – especially if it’s something even more obscure than pickled walnuts!