Thursday, December 30, 2010
Ding dong meltingly on high
I'm a Southern Hemisphere person. I thought I knew a bit about summer Christmas. But Christmas here was hot.
Our celebrations started on Christmas Eve evening with a stroll down the road to see the local version of houses decorated with Christmas lights. Here it is the canal houses who pimp themselves up, but only on the side facing the water. Mandurah's canals are very much private space; there certainly aren't footpaths along the edges of the canals like the ones in various European cities. Therefore the best way to view the Christmas lights is by boat and hundreds of people do every night, either in their own boats or by going on a canal cruise.
We don't have a boat. We just walked around the streets with our torches and crept onto various vacant blocks of land to view the sights.
The "style" of most of the canal houses is not to my taste. Walking by some of the more outlandish ones in daylight tends to make me suck in air over my teeth. However that night I was determined to enjoy the spectacle and enjoy it I did.
It was a gloriously balmy evening. There was no denying the festive atmosphere as dozens of boats chugged past with their excited young passengers shrieking "Happy Merry Christmas!". The lights were as kitschy and tacky yet inexplicably enjoyable as any I've seen. Then for ridiculously perfect icing on the cake, two dolphins started frolicking around in front of us.
On Christmas morning I was woken at 5am by a very excited boy. He was right to be excited as Santa had visited. (Given that this is Mandurah I doubt Santa pansied around in a quadruped-powered sleigh. Mandurah's style is more metallic-pink stretch Hummer limo. With a musical horn.) Santa had left a few small presents for each of the children and a couple of big presents for the family to share.
Yes, we now have boats.
We spent Christmas morning down at the estuary trying not to drown ourselves. The children's father isn't able to kayak yet but their aunt and I harassed the children from the shore by calling out "Is it our turn yet?".
The temperature crept up and up and up. The Fremantle Doctor had a day off on Christmas Day. Instead the paint-strippingly vicious easterly desert wind got stronger and stronger and the day got hotter and hotter. By late morning the temperature headed for the late thirties and we headed home.
It was too hot to cook. It was too hot to eat. It was too hot to drink alcohol. It was too hot to tolerate the person who kept singing "Ding dong merrily on high". He was made to desist.
The temperature hit 40 degrees. I kept walking around the house trying to find the coolest place (which is lying on the tiled laundry floor). It was too hot to care about decency or style; in true Australian style our underwear magically became OK as outerwear. It was too hot to care about our poor old planet. We turned the air con on.
Slowly we became human again and eventually delved into the fridge. Between us all we made a simple but delicious meal of Tasmanian salmon.
We dressed for dinner. For my sister this meant hauling on an elegant dress, for my partner it meant donning his 1970s safari suit, for me it meant fifties floral frock over damp swimsuit, for my son it meant his new Christmas T-shirt and for my daughter, well
she says she dressed as a Christmas tree. (No shoes because she'd left one of her criminally-ugly plastic shoes outside on the paving stones and it melted and shrunk two sizes.) I thought "Ding dong misguidedly on high".
And that if I don't get that maddening song out of my head soon, it'll be a case of "Ding dong murderously on high".