As snow brings UK to a halt, filling my Facebook feed with pictures of views from office windows and posts about cancelled flights, we’re inching past the 30 degrees Celsius mark, worrying about our cheap satnav overheating on the car windscreen and debating whether it’s wise to cook chicken on the barbecue. At baby’s playgroup Christmas party this morning, he was given a plastic water pistol as a present from a Father Christmas who I can only hope had some ice packs strapped under his velvet coat and beard. The days are getting longer and the mozzies are coming out in the evenings, baby’s food-smeared face is attracting flies and the fat creases on his arm that see no sun are looking a lot paler than the rest of him.
It’s been a good few years since I last felt ‘Christmassy’, but it’s certainly impossible living in Australia. There are a few decorations in shops and roadside notices about carol services, but it’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy when your child is crying because you slapped sunscreen in his eyes or you’re legging it home from the supermarket under the blazing sun because you’re worried the frozen prawns will defrost.
But as I learned, here in Australia, Christmas means something special; something more tangible than a religious celebration or a social obligation for over-indulgence. It’s the end of the academic year and the start of a long holiday; kids finish school on 15 December and don’t start back until 5 February. Which means a month and a half of parents expending their money and sanity on countless beach trips and ice lollies. And when everything – including baby’s playgroups – finally start up in February, we’ll be toying with temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius here in Canberra. I might well take snow over that.