As we munch on left over Christmas ham sandwiches I reflect on Christmas 2014. My husband and I are visiting his brother and wife in Northern Queensland and enjoying their hospitality in their pole house which is build on a 5 acre block in the rain-forest in the hinterland above Port Douglas. As I sit out on their deck, the wallabies quietly sneaking out from the rain forest to feed on the lawn and there is a brilliant flash of blue as a couple of beautiful Emperor butterflies flutter by, I reflect on past Christmas's.
Over the past 30 odd years we have travelled up to the Cairns district with our two sons to visit their Nanna for Christmas and this is our first trip back since Nanna passed away almost two years ago.
We spent these holidays visiting the reef, eating mango's, lychees and other tropical delights, fishing, swimming in mountain streams, checking out the crocodiles in the local wildlife park, chasing cane toads at night and visiting the local waterfalls and volcanic lakes. It is a little different this year as our son's were spending Christmas with their respective partner's families.
This year,our Christmas holiday was full of fun and laughter and had a strong international flavour. Our nephew brought with him a group of backpacker friends who didn't have family to spend Christmas with. Two boys from Ireland, two from Wales, one from New Zealand and a girl from France and their laughter and broad accents filled the house over the festive season.
|Mount Molloy Pub - Christmas Eve|
Christmas Eve dinner was enjoyed at the local pub at Mount Molloy, then back home where final parcels were wrapped and put under the tree, some watched Christmas Carols on TV, others played cards, sitting out on the veranda in the cool, and sipping the odd cold can of beer.
In the kitchen, finishing touches were made to the trifle, prawns were marinated, Christmas cake cut and rum balls were rolled in coconut and stowed into the fridge for Christmas day (minus a few that had to be sampled to check the flavour).
In the typical North Queensland style, a large table for the 16 guests was set up outdoors in the shade of the carport, table decorated in red and green. Christmas dinner consisted of cold ham, chicken and turkey accompanied by a huge bowl of freshly cooked king prawns, potato and green salads, washed down by drink of choice (beer, wine or the odd glass of bubbly).
|Santa putting final touches to the Trifle|
Plates piled high, crackers were pulled, jokes read, we all tucked in. It was such a delight to hear the Irish and Welsh banter, with comments "check out the size of the prawns!" , "ahh! the potatoes!!! I love potatoes" and so on. Crackers were popped, bad jokes read, and paper hats donned, wine and beer opened, and everyone tucked in.
When it came time for dessert, every one's dessert pocket was full, so the trifle, pavlova and Christmas pudding was put on hold for the evening meal. It was time for a short dip in the pool before the traditional game of Christmas Day Cricket was set up on the back lawn.
Teams picked, the international rivalry came to the fore, with the odd drinks break, in the shade of the trees. to discuss the different interpretations of the rules. As the afternoon passed the enthusiasm for cricket gave way to some "pale ale" by the pool side and a little rest, before it was time to dig into another round of eating in the evening.
After that dinner and some of the delicious trifle, we all sat around enjoying the balmy evening, watching the little gecko lizards running up the walls, and large moths that were attracted to the outside lights. Our international visitors shared some of their family Christmas stories from the other side of the world, stories of snow, sitting by the fire, hot roast dinners and their Mums cooking for a couple of days preparing their Christmas fare. It was pleasant to have been able to share what was quite a different Christmas celebration for them.