Happy Christmas + NYE from Oz!

First of all…
HAPPY 2014!
In the southern hemisphere, all is well so far. I’m back at my place of residence now, at 2 AM, but can’t fall asleep. Houses all around mine are living the dance party dream — which I kind of love. I feel less lonely, being up all night, when the rest of Melbourne is awake too.

I attended a great NYE (New Year's Eve) party at the Lau's house!

I attended a great NYE (New Year’s Eve) party at the Lau’s house!

Secondly, what is Christmas like in the land of the platypus? Well I’d probably have to celebrate a few more to really share something insightful. I will tell you what my first one was like.

According to my Aussie friends (and all the TV commercials), most people throw a steak or prawns on the barbie…say “Merry Christmas” as well as “Happy Christmas”…hang out at the beach…head to a strawberry farm…or some other summery event.

Growing up in the northeastern United States has given me a traditional and wintery association with this holy day. Even if we fail to have a white Christmas we’re still likely to have a chill in the air. This expectation proved my greatest obstacle to embracing Christmas in the southern hemisphere. I couldn’t help but feel as though everyone was just playing Christmas, putting up trees and picturing Santa on a surfboard as a bit of a group joke! It was a strange feeling. Seasonal expectations aside, my first Christmas in a foreign country was peaceful, fun, and filled with good people!

Kia (11 yrs) chose to be baptized on Christmas Eve. The entire service was a baptism service, which I really liked. It was different than the candlelight services that I typically take part in. Twenty seven people publicly declared their faith and intention to follow Jesus, most testifying how and why He had become their Lord. It was most exciting, of course, to see Ian and Josie baptize Kia. After the service the Bongers and I went to Mark and Migdelia’s house for the traditional Mexican midnight dinner. For the past several years my parents, sisters, and I have had this tradition so it was a special thing for me to have it here, too. We had tamales, sausages, wings, horchata, tres leches cake, apple “salad,” and Christmas cake for an Australian-Mexican fusion. It was 2 AM when we returned to the Bongers’s house.

Josie & Ian baptizing Kia.

Josie & Ian baptizing Kia.

A few days before, Kiana (8 yrs) had calmly but without wavering asked her dad (within my earshot) if she “had anything under the tree from Emily?” Lucky for her, the answer was yes. On Christmas morning Kia was the first one up, soon followed by me and then Kiana. We watched cartoons and they opened the art supplies I’d gotten them. Then their grandparents, who live next door, gave the three of us pancakes while the grownups (I don’t think I fit that category) slept in.

Kia & Kiana with their canvases and paint. Poor Kia wasn't feeling well.

Kia & Kiana with their canvases and paint. Poor Kia wasn’t feeling well.

For Christmas lunch other relatives came over for turkey, ham, gravy, potatoes, bread, salads, pavlova, and trifle. Later the grownups (I am in that category when it comes to this) had pre-planed “Kris Kringle,” or as we Americans might call it, “Secret Santa.” The rest of the day was all conversation and quiet – until poor Kia got the same stomach bug that had earlier in the month afflicted his sister. Fortunately it didn’t take too long for him to feel better!

Christmas tree in Oz

Christmas tree in Oz

Hours later it was time for me to leave. The sky was deep blue and the sunshine steady, lending me a beautiful drive home after a full day of Christmas in Oz.

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