There are three aspects of Christmas in our Australian lifestyle.
One is the religious imperative which is the foundation of the Christian religion; the birth of Jesus, a couple of thousand years or so ago, in a manger in a small village called Bethlehem, in what is now Israel. Christianity and its passive role in our society is the foundation stone upon which much of Western culture rests. The birth of Jesus, the Son of our Christian God, on the 25 th. of December, is a widely celebrated ceremony throughout the Christian world, in both hemispheres of the Earth. Magnificent Christian cathedrals echo the sounds of some truly beautiful Christmas Carols – Silent Night – is one of them; the peeling of church bells floats across European snowfields and the Antipodean harshness simultaneously joining Christians together in the expression of their faith. Much goodwill is generated by the Christmas Spirit and acts of generosity towards less fortunate humans are numerous and spontaneous. Cranky Lizard is a Christian and willingly enters into the spirit of Christmas.
The second aspect of Australian Christmas is the uniting of families for the holiday period. This annual getting together of families is not uniquely Australian, the process applies across the Christian world. Individual family members flung around the globe because of employment, marriage or other reasons make long and involved journeys to meet with their families in one place or another across the countryside. Christmas travel on Australian roads during the Christmas travel period is a wild adventure, fraught with danger as highways, freeways, interstate and local become choked arteries of throbbing traffic. Tempers flare with the heat and the stress of travel; motor vehicles, old and new, are asked to do impossible tasks during the Christmas travel period, and the relevant State authorities increase traffic penalties two-fold, at least during this period, in an attempt to control the mad rush of traffic and the associated motor vehicle crash tragedies. Local newspapers always seem to find more drama and pathos about a fatal road crash at Christmas time than at any other time; who knows why? Road accident deaths are tragic at any time of the year. It is recognised as one the great travel experiences of your life if you attempt to fly, by commercial aircraft to any destination at Christmas time. Airport terminals become hideous nightmares of crushing humans, the odd crackpot trying to take their pet hippopotamus on board as cabin luggage and determined phalanxes of grand-mothers and mothers-in-law transporting homemade cakes and puddings across the globe or the nation – because! An added hysterical dimension to all this is the wearing of the red and white sock hat by all the workers in the airport terminal, for God’s sake. Even the bloody pilots wear them, and it requires a disciplined act of faith to remain calm as the Captain of the multi-engine jet aircraft, stuffed to the gunnels with travellers, toys, pets, children, cakes and puddings wishes you all Merry Christmas from the cockpit, wearing his red and white sock hat. Cranky Lizard does not know, but presumes, that the wearing of the sock hats by Christmas workers is a form of “ getting into the spirit of Christmas “ thing. In an Outback town, once during an Outback Christmas, Cranky Lizard saw the local cops in the local ‘ divvy van ‘ wearing the red and white sock hats, even the poor bastards in the back had them on !! It was a great show of community Christmas spirit by everyone.
Before we leave the Christmas travel aspect, Cranky Lizard mentions that a Police Officer acquaintance has pointed out that the Christmas travel and ‘ getting together ‘ of families has a downside…relatives who really don’t like each other and who rarely speak during the year, all finish up clumped together in a little house in stinking hot weather all drinking rum. Anyone can guess that it is not long before Uncle Wally decks Uncle Bob and it is on! This Police Officer found that Christmas Day was not a day of goodwill but a day of drunken emotional brawls. Eh Bien.
The third and final aspect of the Australian Christmas, and also a global phenomenon, is the commercial aspect of the whole thing. From about November, tinsel, Bing Crosby and ‘ White Christmas ‘ plus chubby, plastic statues of Father Christmas appear magically in shopping malls across the nation. Cranky Lizard has had to be restrained from wild, uncontrolled sobbing as “ White Christmas, was played for three thousand times during one shopping expedition in a regional town in Australia. There is also the peculiar delight of the of the shopping centre car parks, where SUV’s as big as a tank, maneuver about looking for a park. A deadly mistake to make is when you see a vehicle, already parked, start up and begin to move out-by moving close to the spot and putting your blinker on, indicating that you intend to drive into the space when it is clear. This immediately results in the leaving driver feeling offended, so they shut off the engine and sit there in their stationary vehicle. The other vehicle, the one intending to park, also won't move because they don’t want to lose their spot…both drivers can stay like that until they are both dead!
The pressure to purchase presents, to upstage one’s friends and families with gee gaws, splendid gifts and food results in colossal stress on families, credit cards are maxed out, no one can sensibly eat again until the end of March and the Boxing Day sales have assumed more importance in Australia then the Boxing Day Test Match.
So what about all this?
Cranky Lizard suggests that, if you can, stay home this Christmas, talk online more than usual, eat some prawns, drink some good quality champagne or sparkling water and listen to Silent Night on Christmas Eve.
You will be safe, not hungry, not dehydrated and ready for 2019 – when the whole mad circus starts again!!
There was a brief moment when it was thought that Cranky Lizard might go soft at Christmas – perish the thought – philosophical is more like it because Cranky Lizard is secure in the knowledge that there will plenty of nonsense to expose in 2019, plenty of egos to bruise and plenty of snowflakes to get offended.
Until then, may your days be peaceful, safe and healthy.
Merry Christmas and God Bless You.