I don’t even know how to start this post. It’s not that words have escaped me, but that there are just too many glorious segways! So I’ll just cut to the chase – CHRISTMAS! It’s everywhere, am I right?
I’m sure it makes sense in the northern hemisphere (where Christmas is a thing) like Edinburgh. As there the nights are starting to get longer and the days are getting colder. To some people it might even make sense in the most southern ends of the southern hemisphere. But in Melbourne, the days are getting longer and the nights are getting warmer. No joke, one of the Happy Joy Joy Shops on Smith Street has had Christmas decorations on offer since August!!! For those of you, who don’t know what a Happy Joy Joy Shop is, it’s the no-brand-name version of the $2 Shop and Poundland that sells an odd mixture of items, cigarettes and sometimes fresh pineapples, while the shop keep is generally bilingual and often acts like you have entered their family home when you ask for a specific item. We all have our own names for these shops but I was introduced to this title by my partner and think it’s the most hilarious name I’ve ever heard – so I’m trying to make it fetch!
As Happy Joy Joy shops might be re-creations of foreign lands and their own conveniences, I too am a bit of a foreigner in the land of Christmas. I was introduced to the concept when my family and I moved to Australia in the 90s. In Russia, we do the festive season totally different (I will make sure to write about those festivities at a later date … maybe even in December) and I can’t really remember when I discovered that Christmas was actually a thing. As the holiday meant nothing to our family, I was left to roam and learn the Australian way of things on my own.
I think it must have been when I had my first boyfriend in high school and I was invited to his house for Christmas dinner that I observed what happens on this day. Some years I would spend the day with the boyfriend du jour’s family, other times I’d be with my bestie’s family. As I got old enough, but too young to have any actual responsibilities, I discovered how much fun drinking was during this time! Then I became an adult and had jobs that had Christmas work parties! That same year I learned about the magical beauty of the Christmas holidays and not having to go to work for a week. In all honesty, in Australia, I don’t think anyone does any real work in December as the work parties begin. They might get back to work after Australia Day, 26 January, but even then it’s too hot to actually think!
It might sound like for me, Christmas is a big boozy holiday of doing not much but having fun with friends, and that’s true! I’m one of the lucky people that has no obligations on this holiday other than the obligation to have fun. Of course I respect people’s right to view this as a religious holiday and I’m sure for many it still is, but for the rest, it’s a stressful commercial experience of guilt and family drama.
I personally have a connection to New Year’s Eve. My connection to this holiday comes from my Russian heritage. It’s a time for tying loose ends, finishing old business and making a fresh start for the beginning of the new year. I go through my own version of stressing and over buying at this time, but not until the 31st of December!
My other favorite thing about Christmas is that by just adding the word “Christmas” to things they instantly becomes festive, silly and fun!! I recall this one time my great girlfriend and at the time, housemate, and I were going out for Saturday night drinks in December and we decided to take it over the top. We poured red and green pre-drinks, wore as much red and green as possible and then started yelling out “Christmas” before every crucial word in each and every sentence. So our conversation turned into some like this:
“E! Hurry up, our Christmas cab is here!!!!”
“I know! I’m coming! I’m just having a little Christmas pee!”
The entire night was just a hysterical ton of fun, just for the sake of it.
Then you get me started on the joy of the Christmas Pub Crawl! For years, a particular family of another great girlfriend would host a pub crawl down Chapel Street in South Yarra/ Prahran, Melbourne. This was a brilliant day of daytime drinking, catching up on the year that was and trying to flirt in bars using the festive antlers as a much-needed accessory!
The last year I was living in Melbourne, before I moved to Edinburgh, my two partners-in-crime from work and I made up our own impromptu pub crawl. We laughed and bar hopped along the Yarra River from Docklands to Federation Square and jokingly called it our 12 Pubs of Christmas. From memory we only frequented 6 venues that night before we parked up for the evening and gave our leggies a rest.
The following year I was in Edinburgh, where the city is smaller but the pubs are a plenty, that’s where the 12 Pubs of Christmas really earned its name.
But that is a story for my next blog post!
(Seriously, stay tuned for the Edinburgh leg of the festivities next week.)