Today, we move “down under” to experience Christmas in Melbourne. Karen Ray and I met in 1987 while doing a several-week training together in Virginia. I was attracted to her love of laughter and vibrant personality. I think that we may have even learned an Israeli dance together during those days (right, Karen?).
Pull off your sweater and get out the fan because Karen is going to warm you up for Christmas…Aussie-style.
After spending 26 years in Australia we became use to, even good at, doing hot Christmases.
“Hot?” you ask…
You must remember that southern hemisphere Decembers are actually the beginning of the summer months. For those of you living in Minnesota, this concept is probably something you have never thought about. I mean, why should you, right?
For those of us who’ve lived outside the U.S. we become aware that the majority of the world below the equator seems to have this obsession for the cold Christmas. You know … fake snow on the window; icicles; hot cider; roaring fireplaces! Even songs emanating from the radio like “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” I would giggle and think, “Yep, that’s all they’ll do is dream cause it ain’t happening’ here!”
Our very first Christmas in Australia, actually became our most memorable. In absence of our own family, we were graciously invited to be a part of a large Aussie family’s Christmas day celebration. They went all out. Three different kinds of roasted meats: chicken, pork and the traditional lamb, a full array of hot vegetables including the traditional roasted pumpkin and whole potatoes. The dessert was “hot” too in the form of a literal, flaming Christmas pudding. It was an amazing meal.
What made this most memorable was that it all took place on the hottest and wettest day on record in Melbourne! It rained nonstop all day long, making a very hot day. The humidity was unbearable and I use that word because I can’t think of one any stronger.
In the late 80’s, houses in Australia didn’t have air conditioning. Add this to unusually sticky weather multiplied to a full kitchen of roasting meal preparation and you bake up one stifling day. Amidst it all, they joked to themselves how ‘draft’ (silly) it was that Aussies were insisted on doing it the hot way!
We sweated our way through a most delicious meal. Eventually, my pregnant body was forced outside to the relative coolness of the veranda (porch). There I found myself in the company of the sweet mother of our hosts. She and I had such great and blessed God conversations that afternoon as we fanned ourselves with magazines.
I’ve always cherished that time, not only because it formed a lasting friendship with these families that remain to this day, but especially because this dear, sweet lady went home to be with Him only a few short weeks later.
I’m often reminded of her wisdom and thoughts that have guided me in each Christmas thereafter.
“Do it cool!” she laughed.