Christmas began with tears this year. Not mine for once (though a cocktail induced hangover nearly pushed me to the limit). No, the tears poured from the eyes of my little sister. Her present had been eaten – twitching nose and all.

It started well. She’d received a pair of darling little bundles of fluff as a Christmas Eve surprise and after hours of love and affection, Chocolate and Marshmallow were put safely back in their cage. Later, after returning from the Christmas pub gathering, we discovered a missing Marshmallow and a very guilty looking German shepherd.

Rabbit murder aside, the day progressed with the usual mix of Aussie cheer and I’m happy to report that the essential festive factors were present:

  1. Insufficient wrapping paper to cover that last emergency gift.

  2. Sexy underwear that surely won’t fit (Mum, I wish my bum was THAT small!)
  3. vow to fit into those tiny sexy knickers before New Years Eve.
  4. Flies as thick as whipped cream (don’t open your mouth too wide!)
  5. A token English visitor complaining about the flies.
  6. Echoes of “shut the door – you’ll let the flies in!!”
  7. An overworked Mum.
  8. The magician-like relative who disappears every time there’s cleaning to be done.
  9. The niece who wants Grandad to play with their new toys – again, and again…
  10. The Grandad who consequently seeks refuge in the veggie patch (surely she won’t find him THERE?!
  11. Tipsy Aunties.
  12. Far too much food.
  13. An expanding waistline.

How was yours?

When it comes to an Australian Christmas, things are done to the extreme. I’d almost forgotten the dramas involved with inviting the city dwellers to our family farm for a weekend of constant barbecues and fine wine. My mother is the all-nurturing; ‘get out of my kitchen’ type of woman. No belly is too big to feed and damn it, “I’m gonna make it ALL from scratch!” She slaves away for weeks baking, preparing fresh vegetables and barley moving an inch from the kitchen.

And for what I ask? The ravenous hoards guzzle the feast before it even hits the table. I for one, am guilty. In an attempt to assist the chef, I found myself diverted from the sink, towards the food-laden plates. Does anyone else eat more than their stomach can hold simply by taste testing?

Mum tends to cater for all at Christmas time – in honour of our British heritage; we have both a roast lunch and a fresh cold spread. She’d give the finest buffet master a run for their money. They kill their own beasts on the farm so the meat was fresh and never-ending. Our three freezers overflow with chopped carcasses and the barbecue barely had time to catch its smoky breath. I didn’t touch the char-grilled flesh but the carnivores of the group tell me it was top notch.

A word of warning however, if you don’t want you sexuality questioned, when complimenting the chef on his fine Aussie steak, do not let the word “gorgeous” leave your mouth. That is, unless you want your sexuality questioned. As my sister snakily informed my London boy, “A steak can’t be gorgeous… it’s bloody great!”

And indeed it was, the highs, the lows, the sun, the smiles and the marathon family photo session. Even the never-ending mountain of dirty dishes was worth the trauma. Christmas with the family has never been so enjoyable. For the first time in 14 years we were all there, every mad one of us.. I knew I came back from England for a reason.

Next year we’ll just order take-out and bulk buy paper plates.

And the latest on my grieving sister… she developed an allergy to the remaining bunny and is bed-ridden with asthma and angry red hives.

Next year we’ll get her a gold fish.