Greetings to our Northern Hemisphere brethren!
This is a dispatch from Down Under, and today we want to bring to your attention the pure awesome that can come from the wonderful combination of summertime and Christmastime. For those of you that may not know, in the Southern Hemisphere we have summer from November to the end of January, meaning Christmas Day hits right when the heat is at its peak. So how do we celebrate with a dearth of snow, reindeer, and chestnuts roasting on open fires? I’m glad you asked!
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and the reason we haven’t all bailed out en masse is because combining the best parts of summer with the best parts of Christmas is exactly as awesome as it sounds. As kids, we’d all get together during the school holidays and raid every fruit tree in sight, chowing down on fresh mangoes straight from the tree and the cheap and plentiful cherries, apricots, nectarines and peaches even the poorest of us could afford.
Then, after our folks had placed a few of the gifts under our respective trees (saving the choicer ones for Santa to deliver), we would go around to each other’s houses and play at Holmes-like levels of deduction — “I see from the size of this box, and the telltale, unmistakable rattle within, that you got M&M’s again, Timmy. Unless you’re on Santa’s ‘Good’ list, or unless your Dad stops drinking, you won’t be getting that Super Nintendo this year, mate.”
Narcotized on sucrose, we’d stumble from house to house, guessing wildly at what we’d be getting for Christmas based on what we could discern. Then, as adults, we’d stumble narcotized on cheap booze from yard to yard guessing wildly at which girls might sleep with us. On both counts we were almost always wrong.
However, there are things about it that imbue a cognitive dissonance; it’ll be 110 degrees with 110% humidity, and you’ll finish watching the Frosty the Snowman/Rudolph Rankin-Bass double feature on TV, peel yourself off the couch to go Christmas shopping, and pick up some flip-flops and a beer koozie for your old man while “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Let It Snow” play over the in-store PA.
The weirdest thing about it, however, is how not-weird it is: We’re so inundated with television, music and movies from America and the U.K. that we’re raised with equal amounts White Christmas and Summertime Santa, so no one thinks it’s strange to see a fake snowman on something that used to be a lawn before the combined efforts of the sun and water restrictions got to it.
Even with the inundation of American and British influences, we Southies do have to create our own traditions and activities between consuming and enjoying dispatches from our Westernized counterparts, and for many of us it involves filling a cooler with ice and beer, heading down to the beach with that and a shade umbrella and maybe something cool we got as a gift, and enjoying the sunshine and the atmosphere and maybe taking a few cheeky peeks at the girls showing off their brand-new swimsuits.
Others will take their kids outside with their gifts and let us all experience hours of listening to their laughter along with the whine of remote-control cars and hula hoops cluttering to the ground, along with the excited Doppler screams of children tearing it up on the Slip’N Slide, those these sounds will be succeeded by the screams of drunken adults commandeering all those things.
Speaking of drunken adults… Of course, for Christmas Day all pubs and clubs are closed, and for Australians this is a crime, and the only fit punishment is Boxing Day. On Boxing Day, all drinking establishments fling open their doors, and we show our displeasure at their temerity to stop serving us alcohol for a whole day by excessive consumption and the vomiting and violence it inspires.
Friends, Boxing Day makes New Year’s Eve look like a church picnic due to the fact that, at midnight on New Year’s, you still have to be sober enough to say “Happeh NewshYEEEEEEAAAAAAR ALL YOU BAAAAAAAASTARDS!!!” But Boxing Day imposes no such draconian limitations on us. We consume all the grog we can until the gutters are flowing with puke and blood. Then, the day after that is spent hoping for a bushfire or flood to hit to wipe away all the shame and evidence of Boxing Day.
But I think the Christmas spirit in Australia is best exemplified by what happens when disaster unfortunately strikes, and with it being summer and with plant life like the Banksia that relies on fire to propagate, it tends to strike almost every year in the form of bushfires or floods, it’s our volunteer firefighters and disaster relief personnel that can give people the greatest gift of all: The ability to keep on living. And those of us not that brave do what we can to donate food and gifts for those to have outrageous fortune take away their homes and destroy not only their belongings, but their Christmas as well.
Everyone should be lucky enough to experience a White Christmas at least once in their lives, but so too should our neighbors to the north be able to have at least one Summertime Christmas; we’ll save you a seat at the bar, buy you a beer, and promise to keep the fire at bay. But on Boxing Day… you’re on your own.
Aaron Dennis-Jackson is Man Cave Daily’s Australian Correspondent, though not for much longer, as he’s moving to America to make it a sexier, funnier place. You can check out more of his stuff here and here.