The thought of spending Christmas on Bondi Beach makes most people swoon. Imagine lazing in the sunshine, relaxing on the golden sands with a cold beer as you open your Christmas goodies. Sure, the good old fashioned turkey dinner may have to be replaced by an Aussie barbecue but that’s something we can get over.
I was really excited at the possibility of sharing in this dream Christmas experience and I had my Santa bikini ready and waiting. I couldn’t wait to phone my family who were stuck in cold, old England and tell them about how amazing my Christmas day was.
Unfortunately it didn’t quite happen like that…
This dream Christmas experience all revolves around it being hot and sunny, but what happens if it rains? And that is exactly what happened Christmas 2009 on Bondi Beach. It rained ALL day!
In true British style we headed down to the beach in the rain, hoping for some miracle that would magically turn the cold drizzle into the 30 degree sunshine that we’d been promised by every stereotypical Australian notion out there. I’d optimistically worn a bikini beneath my hoody but there was no chance I was going anywhere near the sea.
We huddled beneath a shelter, exchanging gifts (all bought from the dollar shop) and getting stuck into a box of goon that was swiftly confiscated by the police. So much for Christmas cheer!
We lingered around the beach, trying to be festive and fun but something was wrong…this just wasn’t Christmas.
The day way long, cold, drunken, sandy and remarkably un-Christmassy.
At around 11 pm my parents called to wish me Merry Christmas. My mum spoke first, telling me how she’d been up since 6am making mince lies, lighting the big coal fires throughout our house and basting the turkey.
My dad had been shovelling snow off the drive ready for their guests to arrive while my brother threw snowballs for the dog.
As my mum spoke I could hear Christmas songs in the background, I heard my dad open the first bottle of champagne (one of many in the Stott household) and I heard my family opening presents, laughing and shouting before they each took turns to hold the phone and wish me a merry Christmas.
It actually sounded like a scene from Home Alone, only the family were all at home and I was the one who had left.
I could almost smell the mince pies; I could feel the warmth from the fire and the tingly feeling in the tips of my fingers that you only get from throwing snowballs for far too long. I could hear the excitement and anticipation for Christmas dinner and taste the champagne they were all sipping. But worst of all, I could hear the sadness in my mum’s voice. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year and we both knew that I would be in my element if I was there, joining in with all the festivities.
During this conversation I was sat on my own on the stair case of my hostel, sipping cheap wine from a plastic beaker while picking at a soggy kebab. I was still slightly damp from a rainy day on the beach and I was feeling more homesick that I ever felt during my entire life.
I think this was the one and only time that I got homesick during my travels and I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. I was slowly sobering up and my head was pounding; I was tired and cold and I just wanted to be at home. I just wanted it to feel like Christmas.
So this year I am ridiculously excited about being home for Christmas. I popped back to my parents house last weekend to put up the tree, I’ve bought all my presents and they’re all wrapped and waiting. After two years on the road and two Christmases away from my family, I can’t wait for a good old fashioned family Christmas.
Were there any times you were homesick on the road or had disappointing experiences? There are some things you think are going to be different and amazing but it turns out that the traditional experience is way better.