If you’re unfamiliar with Australia (pronounced “Uh-strahl-yah” or even simply “Strahl-yah” – we’re not too uptight about our pronunciation here), allow me to educate you a little about our great nation. We do Christmas a little differently down here in the southern hemisphere.
While many people are rugging up, throwing a few logs on the fire, scraping the ice from their windshields, digging out their driveways and generally doing everything they can to combat the wintry conditions – we Aussies (along with some other nations sharing the space between the Equator and Antarctica) are breaking out the fans and air-conditioners. We’re wearing shorts and bikinis, slapping on the sunscreen and are sharing our Christmas cheer with the help of glorious Summer.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that either is better than the other. I’ve only ever touched snow once so far but it’s not a myth here in Australia. Snow happens, and I’m looking forward to experiencing a white Christmas at least once in my lifetime. Even though I have a fairytale vision of a Christmas magically dusted with snow, carollers wrapped up in layer upon layer as they sing in the streets, hot drinks by the fireplace and the fun of tobogganing I know that it’s not everything the movies make it out to be.
Likewise, a Summertime Christmas is not exactly the sunshine-basked, tropical postcard that some travel agencies would have you believe. Luckily for me, I’ve been brought up knowing nothing else beyond the sticky, humid days that encompass Christmas and the New Year and I like to think that I’m fairly tolerant of the weather. Also, I am fortunate enough to have backup whenever I visit my relatives in the Far North.
Sure, I could always retreat to the living room and sit in the cool comfort of an air-conditioned home. There’s conversation to be had and the TV and DVDs are at my disposal. But why go home for a visit if all I do is spend the entire time inside? I could go to other air-conditioned places – the cinemas or the shopping centres but again, it’s time not spent really engaging with my family. I can do all of that during the rest of the year.
So I choose to make use of the best tool for keeping cool when visiting the family:
Photograph by Ian Britton
That’s right, if you’re hanging out with our family at Christmas time it’s incredibly likely that you’ll be spending a good proportion of your time in the swimming pool. It’s easier to manage than the awful transition from air-conditioned comfort to 32+ degree Celsius heat and about 80% humidity and it’s fun! If you don’t want to swim, that’s fine; just hang out in the shade and enjoy watching the kids (young and old) splashing around in the cool water.
I’m doubly lucky in that I have not only one but TWO pools at my disposal during my Christmas visits. Both my parents and my sister and brother-in-law (aka Harmon Rabb) have pools, so no matter where we are I am pretty much constantly assured of a dip. During the day I like to swim with the kids and help tire them out and in the evening we grown-ups might have a lazy soak and a cool drink to round things off.
When spending time with the family over Christmas, there’s not really a better place to be than neck deep in the cool and crystal waters of a swimming pool.
On the second day of Christmas, the Season gave to me…
Two swimming pools
and a trifle made for the Family