This year was my first hot Christmas and it was weird! At this time of the year I am typically baking, bundled up half the time because it’s so cold, and spending time in front of the fireplace (or the fireplace channel with the heat turned up, LOL!). With the exception of the warm weather, it still felt like Christmas.
The city was completely decorated, Christmas music playing in all the stores and shops and even saw some elves walking down the street. LOL!
One thing that was different, and kind of cool, is the Myers Christmas windows. It’s something so simple but a massive tradition in Melbourne. For more than 59 years, Myers, which is a large department store, decorates its windows on Bourke Street and each window is part of a large story. This year’s story was ‘Santa Claus and the Three Bears’. The line in the photo is what it is like weeks leading up until Christmas.
There isn’t much to do outside of looking at the windows and hearing the story over a speaker but it’s a massive family tradition that brings everybody out.
I’ve only been in Melbourne for just over four months so I wasn’t sure how I would spend Christmas since I didn’t know a lot of people; however, I will admit that this was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had. I was adopted by two different families: a girl that I met from church and a man that I met at a networking event for communication professionals. I know the second part sounds random but I’ll explain 🙂
Let’s start with Christmas Eve! I went to a networking event back in October hosted by PRIA (Public Relations Institute of Australia) as a way to expand my network. This was a breakfast on crisis communications so I had to be there at 7:30am. I was one of the first to arrive and so I had some one-on-one time with the presenter. His wife just happened to be Canadian as well so we chatted quite a bit. He was sympathetic towards my struggle finding a job here so he asked for one of my cards and said he would keep an eye open for any opportunities for me. I didn’t think much would come out of that brief conversation but he send me a message a week later and asked if I would like to spend Christmas Eve with his family. That was one of the kindest gestures anyone has ever shown me. At this point I didn’t have any plans so I accepted his offer.
I thought this was a formal Christmas Eve gathering with extended family etc. but it was myself, Ross, his wife Sandi, their two daughters and one of their daughter’s friends. It was pretty intimate but I had such a lovely time! It was great to connect with another Canadian and their daughters, Jess and Chloe, were just lovely. We ate TONS of food and they even got me a small gift. We went for a walk afterwards in hopes I would see a kangaroo. Well I saw an entire gang of them. There were probably about 25 of them and this is the best shot I got.
My heart was just bursting after my evening with the Monaghan’s. I love the times when you don’t actually do an activity with someone but have the best time just being in their company. Plus, they truly made me feel like a part of their family.
Christmas Day was a contrast from the night before. Rachel has an Italian background and is very close with her extending family. I spend the entire day with her family. We started off at church in the morning. Yes, I know it was a little bit different for me too. I’ve attended services on Christmas Eve but never on Christmas Day. It was such a great way to focus the day and keep the focus of Jesus at the centre. After church we drove out to Rachel’s parent’s house for round one of Christmas eating. Not without we had some fun singing some Mariah Carey in the car. It’s one of the staple songs during Christmas time.
First up was Christmas lunch with her Dad’s side of the family. Rachel’s Nona cooked so much food for us and it was just great to meet her aunts, uncles, and cousins.
We sat outside ate SO much food and then lay on the grass in the sun. Rachel was busy making a sticky date cake but I stayed on the grass and called friends and family back home. After a short nap, we got ready for Christmas dinner with Rachel’s mom’s extended family. There were only about 15 of us at lunch and there were more than 30 of us at dinner. I ate so much food my stomach was rock hard. Italians sure know how to cook. And! Rachel’s family was so sweet sending me with home with presents. It was just lovely and a good way to spend my first Christmas (hopefully not the last) in Australia.
I’m looking forward to what 2015 have to offer. I’m still waitressing and thankful that I’m getting full-time hours; however, I’m really looking forward to the day that I have a communications job. Until then, I’m still enjoying the journey. 😀