As I was preparing to write this I read through some of my old posts about Christmas. I was interested to read this one and to compare my thoughts about Christmas in 2021 with my thoughts about Christmas in 2022. I was actually really surprised about how different they were. Somewhere, somehow I have had a complete change of thinking.
For many years I allowed my mother to dictate the location and the way that Christmas would play out. She called the shots by guilting her children into attending a family gathering that most people didn’t really enjoy. Since my children were very small travelling ridiculous distances and spending Christmas sleeping in a strange bed, in a strange house feeling awkward and not at home has been a big part of the landscape. They tolerated it but since leaving school and becoming more adult they have become more vocal about out it.
My niece and nephews were a little ahead of the field informing their parents that they were not up for travelling anywhere this Christmas and they just wanted to stay home. And so for the first time in a long time we are Christmassing like a lot of people. Visiting for lunch and then leaving to go home to our own house where we will host a small evening meal. For the first time we will see most of both sides of our family on Christmas Day and there will be no sleeping in weird beds or having unwelcome and demanding house guests!
I am excited! Yes it isn’t what my parents want but honestly they can go jump off a cliff. Last year I posted about them being elderly and isolated and I had a feeling of responsibility to them. Last year I did the journey and survived the three or so days of Christmas Hell. And after Christmas Day there was an altercation with my mother that drove home to me that I had given her far too much power in our relationship. It doesn’t matter that she is older and living in a place where she has limited support from able bodied people and very limited health care. She chose that life. She is an adult and she still has all of her mental capacity. She can make changes if she chooses. Throughout the year I have quietly pointed this out to her.
From now on Christmas is about me, Mr Jones, #1Son and The Unicorn; along with their partners. Where and how we celebrate Christmas is dictated by their work commitments. In line with most things in our family it is fairly low key. We have a tree in the corner and have been busily making things as gifts for family members. There are not a lot of other decorations around the house but that is OK. There is ham in the fridge and prawns in the freezer. Things that are essential for Christmas in our house. We are all happy.
I am surprised by the number of parcels under our tree but it is a good thing. I am looking forward to opening them and watching others open theirs. For the first time in a long time I am excited by Christmas. I am hoping that this is a sign of things to come. Low key, relaxed Christmas with people I actually want to see.
Christmas in Australia is confusing. As a child I could never understand the incessant references to snow, being cold and all of the things that most people living in the Northern Hemisphere associate with Christmas. In Australia Christmas falls just after the longest day of the year. It is hot. Melt the bitumen, spend the day under the air conditioner hot. Unless you live in Tasmania where it has been known to snow at Christmas, but what Australians count as snow would be what Canadians call dew.
Christmas decorations make no sense in Australia. Poinsettias flower in June, holly is not grown anywhere. We have any number of other prickly plants, why would we want to introduce another? Pine trees do grow here but in Queensland at least they are tall and spindly; not the type that you see in the American movies. Besides, the significance of the tree that stays green through the winter is lost. Most Australian native plants are evergreen. Christmas lights have become a thing in recent years but as a child it was another thing that didn’t make sense. It doesn’t get fully dark until around seven-thirty, much later in the southern states.
As an adult I was able to understand the significance of these traditions and I was able to understand that our colonial ancestors kept Christmas traditions in an attempt to make themselves feel at home. I understand that these days it is about keeping up with everyone else in the world. Australians seem to struggle with being different and proud of it, many of us just want to be like the Americans we see on our televisions.
And so we celebrate Christmas. For me as a child Christmas has strong connections with the Christian feast commemorating the birth of Christ. For me as an adult that significance remains. We have a nativity scene on display in our house we attend mass. The Unicorn attends under duress because she is a self proclaimed Satanist. I don’t want to have that discussion with her grandmother so we have agreed she will go and not discuss it.
For the most part large family gatherings are not a part of our Christmas landscape. Distance has been the predominant reason for this. My parents live a six hour drive away. For many years one of my brothers has lived even further. My other brother wants as little to do with his siblings and mother as possible and so spends as short an amount of time at Christmas gatherings as he can. My children were the only grandchildren on my side of the family until The Unicorn was about five and her brother was eight. On Mr. Jones’ side of the family they were younger than their cousins by a similar gap so hanging out in the pool or bashing around the paddock with their cousins was not something they got to do.
Today we will be packing Christmas into the back of the ute and driving six hours to Grandma’s house to spend several days practicing being patient and dealing with heat and guilt trips while Christmas goes past for another year. It isn’t something I am looking forward to. I would rather be on the yacht if I am honest but Christmas is not about being selfish. It is about being kind and making sure your family is OK.
We have entered a time in our lives where our children are able to care for themselves but now our parents are ageing. Mr. Jones’s parents live with us and they will be spending Christmas with his sister and her family. In all honesty they would probably rather be at home with us than in a strange house with six rowdy great-grandchildren. His mother has a health condition that is not serious but does require constant monitoring. It also means that her life can be threatened by the common cold. It is hard watching a parent deteriorate.
My own parents live in a very small rural community with limited health facilities. Any health emergency results in a trip in either a helicopter or small aerial ambulance to the nearest large hospital. Located in a town not anywhere near where myself or any of my brothers live. They are in their seventies and my father insists on working his farm as he has done his whole life. Their living situation is not sustainable but at the moment no-one wants to make a plan.
So in short my family is not really OK. There isn’t a lot I can do to make it OK. I would dearly love to pack my parents up and move them somewhere closer to me, as painful as that process would be. It would certainly make my life much simpler, and possibly theirs. But it isn’t happening any time soon, if ever.
I read Marie’s Christmas post and found myself nodding as she described a preference for spending time with those closest to her in small, intimate gatherings. I feel that is the direction my Christmas will take as time goes by. I will always have a tree in my house. I will always have a nativity. I will always have ham but it will never be baked, who has time for that and it is freaking summer here! I will always buy some gifts for my immediate family and I hope I will be able to participate in crazy Christmas antics in the school staffroom for several more years.
Thank you for joining me on my early morning Christmas eve ramble. I hope that you all enjoy your Christmases, whatever they look like. If surviving is your goal for this time then I empathize and wish you luck.
The prompt for this week’s Wicked Wednesday is Thunder. In Australia we are in the middle of storm season. The days are often humid and finish with a storm. When reading the prompt a classic song from an Australian pub band – GANGgajang came to my mind.
Out on the patio we’d sit
And the humidity we’d breathe
The sounds of GANGgajang wafted through the screen door to the verandah where Liz sat with her feet propped up on the railing. Cicadas buzzed all around them almost drowning out the song.
“I never realised how much I missed that sound,” Liz took a swig from her beer
“What, don’t they have GANGgajang in Pommie land?” Johnno plonked himself down on the chair beside her and cracked open a can of beer.
“The cicadas you doofus!” Liz slapped him on the arm. “You are such an idiot sometimes.”
“I’m an idiot?” Johnno turned to look at her. “You’re the one being all soppy about cicadas.”
“No, it’s just that London is so different from here.” Liz’s voice trailed away, as she stared out over the sugarcane that grew almost up to the bottom of the stairs. In the distance lightning flashed through storm clouds too far away for the sound of thunder to reach them
We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields
Laugh and think, this is Australia.
“Yeh, I can’t say I am wishing I went with you.” Johnno’s voice sounded reflective.
Liz turned and looked at him in the half-light that was spilling onto the veranda from the lounge room. His body was lean and muscular from long days working on and driving machinery. Her eyes moved down his arms to study his hands. Big, capable hands. So. Fucking. Sexy.
And in the distance, through the heat haze
In convoys of silence the cattle graze
“It is so FUCKING hot,” Liz stood up and pulled her dress over her head. She moved to the railing hoping for a finger of breeze to cool the sweat from her skin. “Three days ago, I couldn’t go outside without wearing at least four layers of clothing. Now I feel as if clothes are going to choke me!”
Johnno was silent. Looking at her over the rim of his beer can. The dim light from the lounge room illuminated the curve of her breast. Full, round breasts. So. Fucking. Sexy.
He stood up from his chair and moved to stand in front of her. Their eyes met and the tension grew. His fingers flexed but he hesitated. Did she want him after all her travels? How could she want a simple country boy like him after travelling the world?
Liz was transfixed by his hands. Her nipples hardened as if they were stretching towards the man standing just out of their reach. She ached to feel his body again but something stopped her from pulling him to her. Had he moved on? Had he forgotten?
He leaned down, hoping, afraid. She tilted her head longing, hands itching to feel the muscles of his chest and to cup that amazing arse.
The veranda door banged open,
“Hey Liz! I heard you were back! You picked the best time to come home. It is so fucking hot!” Johnno’s friend Toby appeared, beer in hand. There was an awkward silence and Liz reached for the dress she had discarded over the chair, Johnno stepped in front of her to block Toby’s view of her in her underwear.
“Hi Toby,” Liz’s voice was muffled by her dress as her arms flailed around trying to find their place.
“Was I interrupting something?” Toby tried to look around the tall solid body of his friend.
“No,” Johnno’s voice was firm as he took a step towards Toby.
“Really?” Toby’s eyebrows raised as he took in the flush on his friend’s face. “I am disappointed that you didn’t invite me.”
The block is awkward – it faces west,
With long diagonals, sloping too.
Finally, her dress was in place and Liz appeared.
“Hi Toby,” she stepped forward to hug him, “how have you been?”
“Oh you know, nothing ever changes around here.” He sat down on a chair and opened his beer. “You look amazing, by the way.” His eyes travelled over her body. She felt herself responding to those piercing blue eyes. So. Fucking. Sexy.
That certain texture, that certain beat,
Brings forth the night time heat.
Johnno stepped forward so that Liz could feel the heat from his body. She leaned back against his chest. Her eyes locked with Toby, challenging him. Johnno’s hands moved around to cup her breasts. His fingers pinched her nipples, sending a jolt through her. Without speaking Toby stood and moved until he was standing in front of her. Johnno’s strong arms held her close to his strong body as Toby pressed against her, kissing her deeply. He reached down and lifted the hem of her dress with one hand and hooked his fingers into the waistband of her knickers.
Liz whimpered as Toby’s fingers slid into her slick opening. She sagged weakly against Johnno’s strong frame. His fingers worked in and out of her, hooking to trigger her g-spot. She cried out in pleasure as a gush of liquid covered Toby’s hand.
“I think she likes that,” Johnno’s voice was hoarse.
“I think she does,” Toby pressed his hard cock against her thigh.
“I bet those Pommie guys don’t fuck like us.” Toby eased his cock out of his pants. Precum glistened in the dim light, “Do you think you will still recognise us?”
Liz reached for Toby’s cock but he grasped her wrist, stopping her, “That is cheating,” he smiled teasingly, “Let’s play the game the way we used to.”
“OK.” Johnno’s arms relaxed and Liz moved to the veranda rail. She leaned forward slightly wiggling her hips as Johnno slid her soaking knickers down over her knees. Free of her underwear Liz spread her legs slightly and bent further forward. The heady smell of her arousal filled the night ari.
That certain texture, that certain smell
Brings forth the heavy days
Brings for the night time sweat.
“Are you ready?” Johnno whispered in her ear.
She nodded, “Yes,” her voice was faint
Slowly a cock slid into her, opening her. When the shaft was as deep as it could get it stopped. A pair of hands gripped her hips. They stood that way for a few moments.
“Johnno?” Liz’s voice was hesitant
“Good girl, you remembered.” The hands gripped her hips and she was rewarded by several long deep strokes of his cock. Fingers stroked her clit, before sliding in next to the cock, stretching her a little further. A deep moan escaped her throat.
“Fuck!” she moaned as an orgasm ripped through her. Liquid gushed over the hand as she sagged weakly against the veranda rail. Johnno withdrew his cock and stepped aside.
“Do you want another?” Toby’s voice was hot in her ear.
Toby slid himself into her. He was unable to stop himself from pumping hard. “Fuck you have the best pussy. I have missed this.” Sweat dripped from his forehead onto her back. The night air was filled with the sound of his hips slapping against Liz’s butt. Her moans of pleasure joined his grunt as he emptied himself into her. He held himself for a few moments breathing heavily before she pulled away from him.
“I hope that isn’t all you two have got,” her eyes challenged them both.
Johnno grinned, “You know us better than that,” “That is good, I wouldn’t want to have come all this way to be disappointed.” Liz turned and led the way into the house. Without a question both men followed.
To see who else is being wicked this week click on the image below.
I have been on holidays in Papua New Guinea so I am a bit tardy with my TMI this week. I will also preface my post by saying that living in a country that experiences Christmas in Summer means that a lot of the traditions that surround Christmas are irrelevant, and for a child growing up in this environment downright confusing. So my answers to the questions below will be very different from most. A bit like this image that I found at Kokatu.com.au
1. Have you ever kissed someone under mistletoe?
In line with the comments at the start of the post it is summer here. I actually have never seen mistletoe in real life so I guess the answer is no. On a tangent I got very excited recently on a visit to a Brisbane cathedral when I found a real live holly bush growing in the grounds. It was the start of summer so of course there were no red berries in sight but to see something that I have only ever seen in photos is exciting for me.
2. Eggnog or hot chocolate?
Again the climate means that neither of these items is really happening at this time of the year. I have discovered, however that you can buy egg-nog in a carton (eeeewwwww). For the record I am not planning to try this any time soon. I do however enjoy a good hot chocolate during the appropriate season.
3. Colored or white lights on a Christmas tree?
I had to ask girl child to demonstrate this to me. It turns out we have white and pink (I think it is meant to be red but that is what you get when you buy things from the dollar shop).
4. Real or fake Christmas tree?
Now as an adult living in the city fake because again, Australia. As a child living on a cattle station it was a custom to head to the creek the day before Christmas to harvest a section of a ti-tree which was placed in a bucket of wet sand and decorated. It only lasted a few days.
5. What tops your Christmas tree?
We currently have a star. We used to have an angel but she died.
6. Candy canes, yuck or yum?
I am not a huge fan of candy canes. However I believe that this is probably because the kind we get here are mostly found in the dollar shop and are inferior. A friend was once sent some candy canes from the US and they were much better than any damn candy cane I ever ate. A question for my Northern Hemisphere readers; Is mint the best / only flavour you get?
7. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Even though it is hot and this is not appropriate for the climate Australians will still honour traditional Christmas food such as fruit cake and plum pudding. I am a bit partial to plum pudding and Mr Jones would not be impressed if it wasn’t served, warmed up with enough custard to drown it. I have made an ice cream version of a plum pudding in the past. I enjoyed it but not everyone else was convinced. This year my brother and his family will be joining us. They are mostly gluten and dairy free so for them dessert will be red and green jelly with fruit (yay!)
Bonus: Are you going on holiday during the December holiday season? Where?
I have just returned from an 11 day cruise to Papua New Guniea which I blogged about here. Other than that I don’t think I will be venturing very far. I will need to recuperate after the family onslaught that will be my pending Christmas celebration.
Make sure you check out the other TMI participants and see what everyone else has planned for Christmas.
To those of you who celebrate some kind of religious festival at this time of the year I hope that your celebrations met all expectations. I am sure that family was visited, food was eaten and presents were distributed.
As a resident of the Southern Hemisphere Christmas can be a confusing time of the year. Traditional foods such as roast meat and egg nog don’t fit with daily temperatures exceeding 30 degrees centigrade. Images of a fat man dressed in a thick red coat with big boots makes me feel even hotter. For me Christmas is eternally represented by long hot days, cicadas and what equates to summer holidays in the US.
Recently I was chatting with a twitter follower who lives in Arizona and he commented on the strangeness of celebrating Christmas in the middle of Summer holidays. I have never known anything different so for me it seems somewhat normal. When I was reflecting on this conversation later it occurred to me that it would be weirder to celebrate Christmas during winter but without snow and the need for heavy winter clothing. At least if it is officially summer you can reconcile with the idea that prevailing symbols are completely inappropriate. I would imagine being in the middle of winter with freezing temperatures and no snow would be significantly different.
Regardless, we are now past dysfunctional family meet-ups for another year and now free to celebrate summer with all it’s searing heat, sunscreen, nights sweating underneath the ceiling fan and days in overcrowded shopping centres. Despite the threat of an enormous electricity bill I think that I will be worshipping the air-conditioning god in the coming weeks.
I am currently on the third last day of the final week of school before Christmas Holidays. In Australia that is six weeks of school – free summer bisected by Christmas festivities. Australian summers are famous for blistering heat and certainly that has been my experience of them. That, along with bush fires and incredibly spectacular storms, complete with copious lightening, wind, torrential rain and occasionally hail.
Over the last few weeks bushfires have been dominating the news. There have been up to 200 individual fires burning that have threatened many communities and individual properties. Fires are not unheard of but I don’t remember fires of this scale so close to home. In my memory fires like this are more frequent in the southern states. Many men and women have volunteered their time to fight these fires to protect the homes and livelihoods of the people affected. I have a deep sense of respect for these people and am grateful for their efforts.
I am very much looking forward to six weeks of no school. Teaching is a very draining profession and the last weeks of the year are hard on teachers and students. For the last couple of weeks it has been a battle to stay focussed and committed. And that is just for me, From what I have observed my students are finding the struggle just as hard. Either that or they have given up.
I am looking forward to having time to write, bake and make stuff. In short to rebuild my sanity in preparation for next year’s onslaught.
I am guessing it must be tax time in The United States as this is the topic of this week’s TMI. Not a particularly sexy topic but them’s the breaks.
I would encourage you to have a look at some of the other contributions this week as I am sure that they will be much more interesting than mine!
1. Are taxes levied where you live?
Absolutely. Australia has one of the highest levels of taxation in the world. The average Australian pays about 30% of their income directly as tax as well as a large range of other indirect taxes including Goods and Services Tax which is 10% of the price of all non-essential foods and services retailed here. So it would not be unreasonable to estimate that between 40 and 50% of our income is paid out in some form of tax.
For this astronomical amount of money we are privileged to have fully publicly funded health and education systems and a social welfare system that is more extensive than many other first world countries. No doubt much of our hard earned money gets wasted on beaurocracy but “such is life”
2. Do you pay your taxes?
Income tax in Australia is deducted directly from most people’s income by their employer before it is paid to them so a regular person who works for a company is generally unable to avoid paying that portion of their tax. Goods and Services tax is levied at the checkout and so again is unavoidable.
Of course there are ways to avoid paying income tax especially if you are self employed or a portion of your income is raised from investments but these are usually the domain of more wealthy people such as Kerry Packer
3. This year will you owe taxes or do you expect a refund?
Sadly I will not be receiving a refund. Most employers are careful only to deduct the necessary amount of tax required. In addition our family investments mean that I usually owe the Australian Taxation Office a certain amount of money.
4. Have you already filed your taxes?
Our financial / taxation year ends on 30 June. So we don’t have to lodge our tax return for a few months yet.
5. You are getting a tax refund, which ONE of these would you most likely do with the money?
a. pay off credit cards
b. contribute to retirement savings
c. go on vacation
d. shop for something (car, clothes, household items, etc)
As a rule we don’t plan for windfalls like tax returns and so any money that come from such things just gets put into the general slush fund. I guess you could call it saving for retirement.
6. Sometimes you just need to be frivolous, and if you get a windfall from a tax refund, which of ONE of these things would you most likely do? Why?
a. have a big party
b. loan it to family or a friend
c. spend a weekend at an adults-only erotic resort
d. gamble (Lottery tickets, casino)
Of course spend it at an adults – only erotic resort. It is an experience that I have yet to have but it is definitely on my fucket list.
Bonus: If you could be a circus performer, which act would you be? (I know, soooo random!)
You are right, very random. I guess given my real life past time of pole dancing I would be some kind of acrobatic performer maybe flying trapeze. On the other hand I think and elephant trainer would also be a pretty cool thing to be.
1. My favorite travel companion is _______
Mr Jones. In fact until I met him I have never really travelled anywhere much. My family never really went anywhere on holidays when I was a child. Mr Jones however has been a lot of places and so it is one habit I am glad I caught from him.
2. I pass time on a plane by ______
Reading mainly or doing crossword puzzles.
3. My favorite part of my travel routine is ______
The part where you finally set out. Usually the week or so before leaving is incredibly busy and stressful to the point where I have had moments of considering sending everyone on holiday without me so that I can stay home and have a good rest! But once we are all on the road the excitement of the journey takes over.
4. When you travel with a companion who is the primary planner for the trip itinerary? Who is the primary planner for the days during your trip/holiday?
Usually all the planning for our holidays is a bit of a joint effort. Although all booking and detailed organising of tours and accommodation is usually my responsibility.
5. In 2014, how many times did you travel for leisure? For business?
Our family has a long history of travelling together, mostly to destinations within Australia. We caravan and camp quite frequently. During 2014 we went on several weekend camping trips to the beach and the mountains. We also went on three longer trips. The first one was a New Year’s Eve cruise to Vanuatu and Fiji.
Our third major trip was another cruise to Papua New Guinea which was an amazing experience for all of us. It is definitely a place I would like to visit again sometime.
6. In 2014, how many times did you travel more than 100 miles from home? How many times did you travel out of your county/state/region but remained in the same country?
Australia is a big place and often you have to go quite a long way to go anywhere. Travelling to Undara took us a total of three days of driving. We did stop at some places along the way to break up the journey but it was definitely more than 100 miles.
7. In 2014, How many times did your travels take you out of your country? Where did you go?
See the answer to question 5.
8. Do you use a travel agent? Why or why not?
Not usually. I booked our cruises on line because it is a relatively simple process. We organise our Australian travels ourselves. It is local travelling and not really a difficult thing to organise. Also most of the time we only have a general destination and kind of make things up as we go along.
If we were to plan a more extensive overseas trip I would definitely use a travel agent or tour company because I don’t have very much experience of overseas travel.
9. For the holiday season, do you prefer to travel/go away or do you prefer to stay home and have friends/family visit you?
My family is quite dispersed. We live about 500km away from my parents and about 700km away from my brother. Last year we made the trek to visit my parents and brother but this year we are staying quietly at home. If anyone in my family has a burning desire to see me on Christmas Day, well they know where I live.
Bonus: Which all-expenses-paid travel destination listed below works best with your interests and why?
a. Walt Disney World
b. Tigh-na-mara Seaside Spa Resort A nature lover’s wonderland–hiking, biking, kayaking, wildlife viewing, beachcombing, and health farm amenities.
c. Macau, China The top gambling destination in the world, experience gambling and casino life excess on an unprecedented level
For me it is a toss up between a and b. I always wanted to take my children to Disneyland which is slightly different from Disney World.
Mr Jones and I are very much into the great outdoors, in particular outdoor sexy photos and sexy fun and so Tigh-na-mara sounds right up our alley. A place closer to home that we have both dreamed about visiting is Hinchenbrook Island. Because it is full of rainforest and lots of semi private places to do what comes naturally.