The christmas lights are up all around town – but they haven’t switched them on yet. And that’s how I’m feeling about Christmas year. I presume they flick the switch December 1st but I can only hope I catch up with the season some time soon after.

I read a blog post yesterday by someone in the states who was railing at the heat, “while the rest of the world is wrapping up warm”… and I thought REST OF THE WORLD! WHY DOESN’T THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE COUNT?

And then I remembered I’d not had enough sleep and might just possibly be overreacting.

Shorts and Tee and the Christmas Tree (2011)

Much less than half the world’s population live below the equator, but those that do have summer for christmas, and for all but two christmases of my life that’s where I’ve been. Sure, there have been some pretty lousy excuses for summer days on the 25th, and having a big roast dinner when it’s cooking outside can be a bit odd, but summer christmas is normal for loads of people.

With summer, of course, comes the summer break, the big holiday, les grande vacances! School starts winding down in November when the older students go on study leave and then by the second week of December everything is wrapped up – reports are written, christmas parties have been and gone, the chairs are stacked on the desks in the middle of the classrooms and everyone has caught up on their roll books (I used to be a teacher)…

All this winding down for the holidays often coincides with a lot of winding up for christmas. As a result Christmas feels like a bigger deal. I know they play christmas music and put up decorations the moment the halloween stuff comes down in the USA, and possibly in the UK, and in some shops in France too, but work and school keep going until just a day or two before santa arrives and the day after new years, if not before, everyone is back to it.

In NZ, on the other hand, half the country is loading the car with boogie boards and citronella candles, debating which route to take to avoid the traffic, and which music will play in the car, and whether to stop at pokeno for pies or to eat cheese and marmite sammies in the car so they can get to the beach sooner.

It’s a very different time of year. I suspect christmas might come as a bit of a surprise here, without all that build-up we’re used to. But I suppose we have a few more weeks to get into the spirit of things.

I’m not ready for the music yet, but the decorations do give me a little thrill, and Luuk sent me some links about french christmas dinner traditions, which got my mouth watering and my foodie-fingers keen to try some new recipes.

Though it will be hard not to make our usual christmas desserts – the lemon and cream layered pavlova stack with all the berries, the choc log with ice cream and cherries inside…

The pav. It just won’t be christmas without pavlova.

All our decorations are in storage in Christchurch, so we have the special treat (which I’m not certain is entirely a good thing) of starting from scratch.

That angel with the pasta-letters that I made at primary school – that’s in storage in Christchurch.

Even the christmas stockings are in storage. Our poor deprived children!

Louis’ first Christmas (2010)
We did bring this hat all the way to France. Perhaps Elena will fit it.

We’ve decided to get a decent tree and put it on the ground in the living room – more fun for the kids, if a little more dangerous/messy while we’re at it. And we’ll put up something in the windows because we live on a corner and lots of people will see and appreciate it.

I’m thinking that, as much as possible, I’ll try to buy things that look christmassy when all put together, but on their own are just red place mats and white fairy lights and a big stripey plate. Then we can use these things all year around. Next year, even if we stay on in France, we’re possibly going to visit NZ at christmas, so I don’t want to overdo it. This year, at least, we’ll be having rather understated christmas decor.

Thanks to all the movies and tv, I suspect that if/when it snows I’ll be totally overwhelmed by christmassy feelings, even though I have never had a white christmas in my life, and probably prefer to spend the day in shorts, lying on a trampoline in the sun, with evidence-of-bbq on my tshirt.

But, go on Paris, you festive city you, with your famous christmas markets and magical lights, win me over!

2 thoughts to “upside down not-yet-christmas

  • Wiedie

    You forget that for all working folks (not teachers) they don’t get the vacation build up in the southern hemisphere either! Government and corporate organisations may have a few days off (as they do in the northern hemisphere) but all those people working in retail and hospitality… it just gets busier at Christmas. When your 3 month summer vacation falls in the middle of the year you actually get to focus on having a summer vacation as opposed to having all the holidays jammed into one season. IMHO there is nothing better than enjoying traditional Christmas cozy and warm inside by the fire with hot apple cider, mulled wine, hot cocoa, warm gingerbread – you name it – and the chance of snow. Not to mention actually being able to enjoy christmas lights at a reasonable time of day 🙂 Go visit some of the Weihnachtsmarkten in Germany this winter, perhaps you’ll be pleasantly delighted by European Christmas! Remember those caves you visited in the Netherlands? In Valkenburg they have a Kerstmarkt in them. Pretty friggin awesome if you ask me and nothing like it in good old hobbit land.

    • amy

      You’re so right. I suppose the work gets crazier and crazier all the way up till christmas, and then after with the sales, perhaps even worse than in the northern hemisphere because leaving the house is more appealing and the kids have little else to do. I’m sure we will love christmas here, it’s just a bit different is all 🙂

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