It has taken me nearly a month to recover and process what our family just experienced at Christmas time this year: A Holiday Trip Down Unda.’ And now that I have, I’d like to share a little bit about what it’s like to go outside the U.S. during the holiday season!
The houligans’ aunti moved to Australia nearly 25 years ago, married an Aussie, and has raised her family in the ‘Northern Beaches’ suburbs of Sydney. An idyllic area, comprised of many little beach towns, each with their own vibrant personalities centering around the water, the outdoors, and surf culture. I could move there in a heart beat.
Four years ago, after trying to re-imagine Christmas after some difficult life events that made it necessary to re-imagine everything, we decided to do the holidays abroad. We took a 3 week trip to England and France, spending Christmas week in Paris and the New Year’s week in London. The experience of being out of the States at Christmastime will remain one of the defining trips of my life. We stepped away from the commercialism that is Christmas in America, to the relative ‘quiet’ of Paris. We refocused on the holiday, and each other, and it was spectacular. But more about that in another post…
My sister-in-law really wanted family to come visit her at Christmas. She’s always making the trip here and she really wanted to share an Aussie Christmas with us. We are so glad we did!
I booked reasonable seats with Hawaiian Airlines back in April of last year, ensuring we wouldn’t be paying the ridiculous amounts airlines charge to go to Oz at the holidays (Around $1.500 r/t vs. nearly $3,000 r/t the closer you get to December). Hawaiian Airlines are a fantastic airline with the ‘Spirit of Aloha’ from the time you check-in, ’til the time you land. We had a quick lay-over in Honolulu on our way and then on to Oz.
We arrived Christmas Eve and had a quiet evening. No Christmas Eve mass at the Sydney Cathedral, but I got over it. Christmas morning was quiet, with the kids opening the traditional 3 gifts to represent the Magi (gifts were GREATLY scaled back due to the trip as their real gift). We then spent the day preparing a cold lunch for later in the day. Turkey, fresh pea and mint salad, home-made stuffing (which I’d never made before!) and potato salad, and lots and lots of Aussie pink champagne!
The houligans swam for the the first time on Christmas! It was lovely. Only to be followed up with Boxing Day, by an even better time: Eating leftovers, swimming, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It was the best!
We did a little bit of sightseeing on the trip (we’d all been there before, except my youngest) and a lot of hanging out enjoying the cafes with their delicious ‘flat whites’ (their version of a latte). We enjoyed visiting the various Sydney suburbs with their distinct personalities. The food, weather and people were divine.
New Year’s eve was spectacular. After spending a fabulous day aboard a boat in the quaint Clontarf cove, we moved on to our friend’s house in Mossman with a view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. At midnight, we observed the most over-the-top display of fireworks I’d ever seen. ‘Spectacular’ doesn’t begin to describe it! It was a fantastic way to ring in the new year! Friends, family, and more champagne (More Duperrey, thanks Dan Murphy)!
These holiday trips have meant the world to our family. I can’t recommend it enough if you can sneak away and experience a different culture at Christmas time, it really makes you reassess what transpires at Christmas in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights, presents, and hoopla here, but there is such a different energy around Christmas outside the States that I find so appealing. Less emphasis on the glitz and more emphasis on the holiday.