Monday, December 18, 2006

X Fest Mess

This year I’m calling it X-mas, and not just because it's easier to spell. This year, in contrast to all other years, I’m really noticing the inconsistencies and gross incongruities of it all: the reindeer, the cheery over-dressed fellow handing out presents, the Christian nativity story which, to tell the truth, I never really re-examined since I learned it for the play we did at kindy: a bearded man leads his donkey and his wife down the main street of Bethlehem, they are refused accommodation by two innkeepers before the third one lets them sleep out in the shed; then we see a star and three wise men travelling across the desert, and when we look back to Joseph and Mary, a baby Jesus doll has appeared in the manger! Whatever a manger is. The three wise men then place gifts at the manger’s feet, and all the angels dressed in white bed sheets and bits of tinsel crowd around and sing It’s a Small World After All. I always played the part of an angel, but that seemed alright to me at the time because I liked singing so much better than talking.

It’s pretty obvious that Christmas was never meant to be held in Australia. All those poor scruffy Santa’s in the shopping centres, all the winter food, the bright cosy-making decorations, when quite clearly it is much too hot for all of that. But the parts I do like are the fairy lights on peoples' houses, because it is nice when it’s finally cool enough to go for a walk in the evenings and have a look at what the neighbours have done to their place; and I like the impulse of the family to retreat from the various far-flung places we have strayed over the year, and gather back together around one table at home. The gift-giving thing I actually like as well, even though it does cause a bit of stress in the leading-up. People say that it’s not good to emphasise to children the materialism of getting presents, but I think it’s lovely to emphasise the thoughtfulness and satisfying feeling of giving things away.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we scrapped the current version of X-mas and replaced it with something more climate-appropriate, but I can't really imagine what we would replace it with. I think we're stuck with the mess of X-mas. Hayden and I are extending ours by visiting both our families plus a bit more of New Zealand and a stop in Sydney on the way home. See you after it's all over.

Monday, December 11, 2006

All Photos By Hayden

Hayden has ramped up his triathlon training after deciding to have another crack at the New Zealand Ironman in March next year.

Quite often I find ways to come along and keep him company when he's training (for example, when we cycle on a 2km loop and I "race" him by trying not to let him lap me more than once every round), but yesterday I overstepped the mark entirely by entering a mini triathlon of my own while Hayden stood on the sidelines with the camera.

We swam the tranquil but lilly-infested Aplin’s Weir

cycled off into suburbia

and finished with a short run under the trees.

I came away tired, but with a renewed appreciation for the riverside parks in the middle of Townsville, plus a brand new appreciation of how difficult it is to swim in a straight line without lane ropes beside you.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

And Look!

I've finished my first two sewing projects: the first was a pin cushion, and the second a wrap-around skirt (pictured while hemming was in progress). I'm pretty pleased with both of them; hardly any dodgy unplanned nips and tucks at all!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Thing

I’ve always found it easy to invest in functional equipment and tools, anything with added usefulness, mechanical parts, or the potential to act as a conduit to creativity. Last time it was a laptop, and this time it is a sewing machine. I love my new thing, but I haven’t yet started on working it out. I’m slightly worried that once I get going, I’ll end up just like the lady who sold it to me, who was wearing a puckery purple home-made skirt suit with appliqué decorations atop each shoulder pad.

I had to go home and watch Pretty in Pink just to get back on track.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Month of Christmas

I’m not feeling Christmassy yet, even though December is here and that means that the retail prelude is over and the real build-up to Christmas may begin. I learnt today that the word the Finnish use for December translates to ‘Christmas Month’, and I like their dedication and clear statement of the Christmas timeframe. It underlines the point of the advent calendar, which is my favourite Christmas tradition, even though it’s a bit difficult to participate in. It takes a lot of preparation to have an advent calendar that isn’t a piece of crappy cartoon merchandise filled with rubbery low-grade chocolates.

Signs of the more Aussie Christmas are here as well: it’s hot, and there are cherries available in the supermarket. (Also, there are mangoes dripping from every big tree in our street, but mangoes are more a sign of summer, I think, than of Christmas. The two are very separate in my mind). I have taken our Christmas lights out of their rest-of-the-year hiding spot … but I haven’t put them up yet. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. A signed invitation from Rudolf?