My first Christmas in Australia.
I was up at 6:40. Just like the old days, when we were running between bedrooms and lying on our bellies at the top of the stairs, squinting through the darkness at our filled stockings hanging over the fireplace. Except this time I was running for the 7:18 train into the city, so I could put down $2 at an Internet café and wish my family a Merry Christmas.
Woolies was closed and the 7-11 only had mouldy Wonderbread. I hadn’t managed to get my grocery shopping done before leaving for Wollongong on Tuesday, so I bought a slice of banana bread from the coffee shop outside Central to have with eggs for breakfast.
The sky was grey and threatening, but I had promised myself that I would spend Christmas Day at the beach, so that is what I did. Took the ferry to Manly. There weren’t too many people. Most of them were wearing Santa hats or those coloured paper crowns you get from pulling crackers.
Read on the beach for a bit, but it started sprinkling and the book wasn’t mine, so I put it away and went for a bit of a hike. The rain picked up on the way home. I stood outside so I wouldn’t get seasick and got drenched on one side instead.
Christmas dinner in the Bishop household is turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, various vegetables that I don’t eat and plum pudding that I don’t eat either. I’d intended to make my dinner out of chicken, potatoes and cranberry sauce, but those were among the things that I didn’t buy from Woolies earlier in the week, so I had leftover corn on the cob, Caesar salad and pre-packaged pasta instead. Hey, better than my normal fare. Had homemade cookies for dessert and watched Christmas movies on TV with my housemate.
It was maybe a little sad. Felt perhaps too much like a regular day.
But Boxing Day was different. It did not feel like a regular day. No regular day that I’ve encountered has seen Sydney packed with that many people. Teeming hordes. Thunderous masses. I escaped. Made a break for it halfway between Circular Quay and Central.
[Photo taken a few days before Christmas.]
I still owe myself a Christmas dinner. Made it to the grocery store this morning, at last. The cranberry sauce was still on sale!