Subject: Re: Christmas / Holidays Away from Home
Hi Lesley,

As far as a BBQ on the beach being what Aussies do for Christmas dinner? I can only offer my own Christmas experiences, and agree with Sue.

Some of our friends have a Christmas tradition of an *early* Christmas morning trip to the beach, nice fruit breakfast under a palm tree, then back home for Christmas lunch. We meet at Mum and Dad's for ham-on-toast and a cuppa for breakfast, exchange our presents, have a swim!, then head to wherever the extended-family-Christmas-day is being held for that year...

As Christmas days are usually hot here in Brisbane, while we used to do a lovely hot roast Christmas dinner eaten outside under a pergola like Sue described, we now do a cold buffet, which as of last year moved indoors to the largest room with aircon in the house that could accommodate the extended family (20 people and counting).

Many people do go out for a lovely Christmas lunch at a hotel where they have the most beautiful buffets or a'la carte menus - the seafood buffets are particularly divine! (But as Sue advised, advanced booking is required.)

From what I know of all my friends and family, the main Christmas day meal is lunch rather than dinner. After that you usually need a nap in the heat of the day :) and then maybe a swim in the pool, a game of backyard cricket or mini golf or boule, maybe a jigsaw or game of Trivial Pursuit with a cup of tea or cold drink. Dinner, if you can fit anything in, is left-overs!

Christmas Eve traditions also vary - local church services often include a re-enactment of the nativity scene with little kids playing the roles and often starring alongside local farm animals for a touch of realism! And in our neighbourhood on Christmas Eve a new tradition seems to be forming - a kind of relaxed "street party". Not with loud stereos or noise, but families and friends putting lit candles around their properties on their lawns, and bringing deck chairs out to the street edge with a beer or cold drink to chat with neighbours who stroll by to look at the Christmas lights. We don't have daylight saving in Queensland but sunset is still not until 6:45pm.

And I second what Sue says about Carols By Candlelight. While I have yet to experience one at the venue :) I always tune in to them on the TV. Something about all those people (tens of thousands!!!) gathered together on blankets in a park under the stars waving candles and singing Christmas songs with their kids makes you believe peace-on-earth is truly possible. The Carols By Candlelight in Sydney look truly fantastic.

I *LOVE* Christmas, and whatever you end up doing, I hope we help you have a wonderful Christmas! :)

Megan in Brisbane, Australia