This the story of me trying to solve my Christmas conundrum.
The long(ish) story
(Skip to the next section for the short version)
My plans for Christmas 2018 began way back in December of last year.
It was New Years Eve in dreary England. The sun had set before 4pm, leaving behind a constant drizzle and all-encompassing chill.
I finished my shift at the pub around 11pm then cycled home in the bleak weather. After taking a hot shower to warm up, I sat down in front of the TV to eat my dinner…alone.
My parents were already out at a party, my brother was with friends and it was too late for me to do anything other than stay at home.
So, there I was, as the clock struck midnight, at home on my own, watching the London fireworks on TV. I’d be lying if I said it was the most exciting New Years of my life!
It was at this point – with the TV showing happy revellers in London – that I had a customary scroll through my social media. I saw pictures of my friends celebrating New Years in Australia 11 hours previous.
They had rented a swanky Airbnb together and were having great fun in the backyard pool with the long summer evenings. “This is what I want”, I thought to myself; “this is where I should be right now!”
And so the seed was sown. Thoughts turned into plans which manifested into booking a one way ticket to Australia.
In the lead up to Christmas, before I arrived back in Sydney, I tried to initiate plans to book another Airbnb with my friends, or organise some kind of trip away over the festive period – much like the one that I missed last year.
Unfortunately, organising a large group of people – especially young adults with vastly different lives and routines – is a pretty difficult task. This was compounded by the fact that I was halfway around the world whilst doing this.
As time ticked on, it was looking less and less likely that a group trip away would now happen – the main reason for me returning to Sydney at this particular time of year.
After arriving in Sydney, it got to the 22nd December and still nothing was organised. Things were getting desperate now; I started having second thoughts about my decision.
Back home in England my grandparents had very kindly paid for the whole family to spend Christmas at a country lodge – something that I would’ve loved to be a part of and something that I was now missing…but for what?
Then, on the evening of the 22nd December, my luck turned. Three things happened in quick succession and before I knew it my festive period was looking very busy: I got invited for a Christmas lunch (in my own home); I was invited to a Colombian party and my friends responded about plans for the 25th.
The short version
In a nutshell, New Years 2017 was a bad one and I wanted to rectify this in 2018 by booking a ticket to Australia to see my friends over the festive period.
My Christmas 2018
So, here’s what I got up to for Christmas in 2018:
My French flatmates organised a traditional turkey dinner on the 23rd and invited me to eat with them. They roasted a whole turkey as well as a whole duck, and surrounded the birds with potatoes and veggies.
In addition to the roast was asparagus and a signature peppercorn sauce with a punch of rum – I’m not sure if these were traditional extras but they tasted great!
On the contrary, for desert they made a classic French buche – a semi cylindrical layered cake of epic proportions. Ours had layers of salted caramel, vanilla cream, crushed Kit Kat and a biscuit base – rich and delicious!
Being only 5 people, we had plenty of meat left for turkey sandwiches – probably enough to last us until New Year! A special thanks to main chef Dylan and to buche creator Jimmy – cheers boys!
My Colombian friend (hi Jhon!) invited me to a party on the evening of the 24th. This is when most Latin Americans properly celebrate Christmas (specifically at midnight of the 24th), so it was a special occasion.
We had a Colombian themed BBQ in the backyard – plenty of empanadas, steaks, marinated chicken and some prawn skewers. We switched up the music between salsa, reggaeton and classic English Christmas tunes – quite a mix!
After more food, drinks and chatting, the party moved indoors. We played some beer pong, darts, and danced until the clock struck midnight – time to wish everyone “Feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas)!
Soon after it was time to head home – we had a big day planned for the 25th which involved waking up relatively early…
Spending Christmas Day on the beach is basically a rite of passage in Australia. It’s the best place to be, so everyone flocks there in droves once their Christmas Eve hangovers have subsided.
Hence, our plans to get to the beach early! Plus, we chose to spend the day at Maroubra Beach – a quieter spot further away from the city.
Aside from a couple of guys who had family commitments, I was there with all my closest friends. We barbecued loads of different food, drank beers, played music, chilled in the sun, played football on the beach and spent ages dodging waves in the sea.
Quite honestly, things couldn’t have been much better – it was the perfect end to a busy and fun-filled festive period!
Read more: The Wonderful Whitsundays
Overall, I had a fantastic time this Christmas.
It was really enjoyable to have a traditional turkey dinner – despite not being exactly the same as an English one, it was quite similar and reminded me of being at home at Christmas. It was also the most “Christmasy” part of my Christmas here in Australia – beaches and BBQs just don’t feel very festive to me!
And yes, although the beach celebrations didn’t feel very festive, it was still great to spend time with my friends, eat barbecued food and go swimming in the sea.
Looking back, I don’t know why I ever worried about plans not materialising – Christmas 2018 turned out to be a scorcher!
Wishing everyone who reads this, a very merry (and belated) Christmas!
I hope you spent time with your loved ones, gave and received some welcome gifts and ate copious amounts of food – after all, it wouldn’t be Christmas without feeling a little ill after meal times!