Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas time, mistletoe and, er, sunshine

Apparently it's nearly Christmas, but you wouldn't know it. Because I'm living in an alternate dimension – one where it's 30°C, you don't spend weekends trudging through the icy wind and rain battling through other shoppers trying to find the perfect presents, the shops aren't all blaring out canned Christmas tunes, and there's no debate about whether this year will be white or who'll be Christmas number one. Even after two weeks or more of Christmas-themed lessons – hours spent reciting “Christmas Alphabet”, brainstorming Christmas vocabulary, banging on about Jesus (so much of the Christmas vocab depends on the Nativity! You try explaining the significance of Bethlehem and shepherds and frankincense to a classful of Buddhists), colouring in Christmas flashcards, reading “'Twas the Night Before Christmas” and dashing back and forth to the stationer's to buy Christmas card supplies, it's still just weird trying to believe it's actually really Christmas time (this, by the way, is my excuse why everyone's cards will arrive late).

Well come on – picture Christmas. What does that word conjure up for you? Does your vision feature a coconut palm anywhere? How can it be Christmas when the sun is shining, the leaves are on the trees, you can go out in a T-shirt and there's not even a glimmer of a possibility that it might snow? What's Christmas without the special edition Radio Times and a showing of The Snowman? Christmas is about evenings cosying up in the sitting room with a fire, stockings hung-by-the-chimney-with-care and a mantelpiece strewn with holly, ribbon, pine fronds and little red crochet horses. It's about decorating the tree and getting pricked by pine needles and tangled in fairy lights. And the aroma of mince pies baking (or warming in the microwave) and gingerbread-scented candles burning and mulled wine, er, mulling. And woolly hats and scarves.

I'm not saying I like or even miss the cold weather – it's just such a part of Christmas time that it feels odd without it. Round these parts we have air con, not fires; flip flops, not mittens; orchids, not mistletoe; and ice is something you find in your drink, not on the road.

But it definitely is Christmas time. There are Christmas decorations up in some stores, you can buy Santa hats and stuffed snowmen in the market, and the family even got a mini musical Christmas tree and a string of coloured lights for the porch in honour of me! Okay, I can do this. I can suspend my disbelief and convince myself it really is Christmas. I've got my festive earrings and I'm ready to go. All together now: "Ludolph the led-nosed leindeer..."


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