It was always the plan to stay with Aussie Nick and his family for Christmas. Nick is Chris’s old school friend and his mum is originally from Northern Ireland. When he was 11 his family moved back to Northern Ireland for a while, and then he came back again for a working holiday a few years ago. The two guys had gotten pretty close during that second visit and Chris had always said he would visit Nick in Adelaide, so now was his chance.
It just so happened that Nick was in Melbourne at a golf tournament two weeks before Christmas, so Chris and I were able to get a lift back to Adelaide with him. The 8 hour car journey wasn’t as bad as I thought, I slept most of it!
We finally arrived at his house in Normanville, a really nice beach town, to be welcomed by his mum, Jennifer, and dad, Ian. Straight off we were made to feel at home. We were given a beautiful room in their Bach, fed amazing food and there was always beer and champagne on hand. It was funny seeing the mixture of Northern Irish and Aussie in Jennifer. She’d moved out to Australia when she was about 10 but still had a funny twang to her accent and I felt very relaxed in her company. She’s very bubbly and talkative, and she loves champagne.
Over the days leading up to Christmas Nick showed us around Adelaide. We went to bbqs at his friends and sisters houses, and visited his grandparents, who still had the strongest Northern Irish accents ever, a nice reminder of home.
Jennifer and Ian threw a pre Christmas dinner party inviting a number of family and friends. The amount of food was ridiculous and it was so tasty, Jennifer is an amazing cook and really went all out. Ian provided the comedy with his dance moves and original karaoke version of ‘Get Lucky’, where he seemed to think the lyrics were “she’s up all night to get stoned.” It was nice being surrounded by people during this time of year and Jennifer made us feel included by giving us presents along with everyone else. I just wish I’d had something to give her back!
Christmas day arrived and we drove to Nick’s aunties house. There were 22 of us all seated at a long table in the garden under a gazebo for shelter from the 35 degree sun. For me, Christmas is usually a small family gathering, just my mum, dad, brother and grandparents, so this seemed massive to me. There were grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, other halves, and friends, two of which were a couple from Northern Ireland, and again, the strongest accents ever. I felt right at home!
We played that corny game where you put a sticker on your forehead with a celebrities name on it and ask yes or no questions until you guess it. I couldn’t guess mine and had to cheat by getting Chris to whisper that it was ‘Elvis’ to me, but I don’t think anyone found out. We then ate far too much yummy food, and drank way too much alcohol, although I swear I didn’t feel drunk after all the food.
It’s their family tradition at Christmas to each buy two small gifts but for no one in particular. Each gift is then numbered, and everyone picks a number out of a hat and gets to open and keep that gift. Or they can steal someone else’s if they really want it. Chris and I sat looking on, and were then shocked to be handed 2 numbers each. We ended up getting a picnic rug (perfect as Sydney fireworks were coming up), a breathalyser (fitting for the amount of alcohol we’d drank that week), chocolate, and a nail varnish kit.
It really touched me the way everyone went out of their way to make us feel so included in their Christmas day. I just wish I’d been prepared so I could have given something back!