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Three migrants remember their first Australian Christmas

Well, the big day is almost here. But while our Christmas seems normal to us, what were the first impressions of those who first experienced it as adults?



Jordan King Lacroix

My family is from Montreal, Canada, where Christmas is usually beset by snow and temperatures around twenty to forty degrees below zero. When we first moved to Sydney in 1996, the first genuine shock was having Christmas in the summertime. It was in the high thirties, if I’m not mistaken, and people had Christmas decorations up. What I remember most was that the depictions of Santa still had him in his North Pole-ready winter suit, which we thought was so weird because he would literally die in the heat. I don’t remember what our first Christmas meal was, but it was one of two things: either fish and chips on the beach – the novelty of which would not wear off on my parents for many, many years – or a giant ham which we ate cold because we couldn’t bear the thought of eating anything hot on such a hellish day.


Ingeborg van Teeseling

Like most migrants who come from a cold country, my first Christmas shocked me to the core. You know the clichés, because they are true. Instead of woollen mittens, midnight mass in a freezing church and lovely hot Glühwein, I got completely lost in the pavlova, cold prawns and carols on the beach. I am not usually homesick, but I was that day, even when I told myself, dozens of times, that this was nostalgia for something that usually looked more like flustered cooking for twenty, frostbite and family feuds.

Nevertheless, the pang was not easy to silence. Then we went for Christmas lunch at the house of my mother-in-law. She is nice, my mother-in-law. In fact, she is one of the nicest people I know. That afternoon she took care of me. She made sure I sat under the awning, so I wouldn’t burn. She pointed out that the ham had been out in the sun for a while and that there was a poo floating in the pool (we had some toddlers in the family then, and that is what happens if you throw them in naked). She told me hilarious stories about my husband’s childhood and asked me about mine. She called my parents, to wish them a happy Christmas and promise them that she would look after me. Later that day I played my first game of cricket. So, all in all, it wasn’t half bad, that first Christmas.


Melissa Montoya

I am from South America. In my first country, we celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus. The gifts we shared with each other was one thoughtful gift. One gift, one person, one love. However, I remember my first taste of an Australian Christmas vividly. My partner’s parents loved Christmas. They were, and remain, well-meaning dorks. I got rid of the partner, but kept the parents. Anyhow, I was most struck by the number of gifts. They rolled out these massive socks with our names on them. Everything was identical, and it was of equal value. It was essentially rubbish, but it was wonderful rubbish. The jokes were bad, the blocks of chocolate numerous and the possibilities of scratch-based wealth were boundless. I was spoiled by garbage, and I freely swam in it. Bring on Christmas of 2018!


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