It's now November and the year has flown by. All of a sudden I'm seeing displays of Christmas cards in homeware stores and supermarket aisles, bigger crowds in the shops, restaurants advertising for Christmas dinner bookings, and even a few streets decorated. At this time of year there's always a big list of things to do: presents to buy, decorations to make or buy, decisions about where Christmas festivities will be held and summer holiday planning.
For me, having the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in Europe for four years was amazing as it gave a whole new meaning to the traditions. Firstly, Christmas lights make more sense in the Northern Hemisphere where it gets dark early, and large hot meals are actually needed to warm the tummy and the soul in the Winter cold. I love the pageantry of the celebrations in the places where they originated. Present shopping on Kings Rd or Regent St in London and elbowing through the crowds and escaping the cold in shops, eating strudel and chestnuts in Vienna for Christmas dinner, the Christmas markets in Vienna with their strudel for sale and gingerbread houses, the snow on the Dolomites in Northern Italy. These are just a few of the experiences I was privileged to have.
Now I'm looking forward to donning flip flops, paddling in the sea, BBQs on the beach, long summer evenings and the smell of Aerogaurd in the air to dissaude the mossies! Christmas is a breakfast BBQ with my husband's family and a noisy household full of over-excited kids and piles of Christmas presents which quickly turns into piles of paper and ribbon; Christmas with my family is usually a quieter affair with an informal lunch of salads and cold meats but this year there's three little kids so it'll turn into something more lively.
I love Christmas afternoons when everyone is full of turkey and pudding and we laze on the couch reading our new books or the blurbs on new DVDs, kids try out their new bikes and we walk along the beach. There's a feeling of wonderful togetherness and relaxation - the calm after the storm of organising it all! Now let the festivities begin . . .