|OK - here I am, stuck in Australia while my compatriots back home are enjoying Thanksgiving and ushering in the start of the shopping season. With all of the griping that I hear about how commercial the holidays have become, I suppose I should be thankful to be away from a lot of the hype. The holiday season in Australia is very different than in the USA, in many ways. I suppose the fact that the seasons are flip-flopped is the biggest reason why people aren't into the light displays and Yuletide cheer here. Why do you need that when it stays light out past 9pm?
Holiday dinner? Oh, the humanity!
The holiday season is celebrated, by many families, with a trip to the beach. Instead of Jack Frost nipping at your nose, you get sunburn. Instead of roast turkey or ham, it's cold shrimp cocktail (or prawn cocktail, as it's called Down Under) and salads. It feels a bit like a Surfer's Holiday. Unfortunately, I'm not into surfing, unless it involves an Internet connection and a mouse.
I suppose it's the pagan in me that is feeling let down at this time of year. I love the winter solstice celebrations. Everything from the yule log in the fireplace that burns for most of the night, to mulled wine, candles and luminaries, mistletoe, and the fresh evergreen boughs that I used to decorate my townhouse back in Raleigh, North Carolina. I miss the smell of pine. I tried to substitute pine cleaner for a real fir tree, but all it did was create a strange craving for sex with Mr. Clean. There's also no gridiron football. No hunky men in tight pants on TV. No half time entertainment. No males yelling and grunting excitedly from the other room as I prepare the family feast.
Our Christmas tree is a fibre-optic thing, imported from China. It's small and really disappointing. I feel like I need to be smoking a joint and burning a black light, in order to enjoy it. My family is far away from me. Call me a masochist, but I loved cooking all day and putting on a big spread for Christmas dinner and having the family around me. Now, it's too hot for me to be bothered to run the oven, and it will take months of planning to get the family together. Most of the time, this is a plus, but during the holiday season, it stinks.
I miss pumpkin pie and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was a staple in my life. I knew how to time the preparation of my Thanksgiving dinner by that parade. 9 am - start of the parade and put the turkey in the pan. Start browning the onions and celery for the stuffing and boil the chestnuts. By the time the parade was half over, I knew I should have the stuffing made. By the time the parade was finished, the bird was stuffed, plastered with butter, and put in the oven to bake. My ability to make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is directly in proportion to watching that damned parade. It took years to perfect that technique. Now, I don't even need to think about turkey basting. I need to perfect my shrimp boil.
I suppose one day, I will have totally assimilated the Aussie cultural holiday season - just in time for me to move back to the USA. I imagine being an old woman, and having the family gathered around me for the family feast. I'll be dressed in my favorite sun dress and one of my grandchildren will comment on my fake tan. No doubt I will be telling dirty jokes that involve romps with Mr Clean and they will all look at me funny. Mr Who? My husband will be glued to the TV to watch gridiron football, and I'll sneak in to look at the hunky guys in tight pants.