Christmas In The Sun

A few days before Christmas I couldn’t decide whether the sparkle of the festivities had begun to dim with age.




It’s not like they don’t go as hard here in Australia, it’s just different to what I’m used to and so takes a little longer to get the Christmas juices flowing.


In spite of being tight on cash when I was a child, Mum always made Christmas a massive event at our house, that included trips into London to taste the first roasted chestnuts in Oxford St and to see the Christmas lights. Here, outside of the plastic commercialism offered by the malls, I’m finding it hard to locate my Christmas spirit and when I see images online of fog and frost and the twinkling lights in London, I feel a familiar sense of yearning.


This year, I feared that the old man – more commonly referred to as Scrooge in December – would finally succeed at blowing out all the Christmas lights on my efforts. He began to torment me with his favourite song ‘Christmas is nearly over’ the day before Christmas Eve, and there were a few moments there where I almost succumbed to the pressure and joined in with a sigh of surrender.


Christmas holds few surprises these days with older kids. It’s too risky to buy them some random gift in the hope they’ll be gracious enough to pretend they like it, hence generally they know beforehand what’s under the tree so we’re not subjected to resting bitch faces over the turkey.


Even more boring is that these days I have to employ some restraint around the excesses of food and alcohol because my blooming middle-aged baby belly doesn’t possess the same recovery skills of its youth. There is some middle-aged wisdom that helps us remember that what we put in our mouths these days isn’t going anywhere else afterwards and that two portions of Christmas pud probably isn’t an option with the three to four months of bikini weather that lie ahead.


The radio helped. Smooth FM cranked out Buble and Mariah and as the first whiffs of Delia’s red cabbage wafted from the cook top, by early evening on Christmas Even I felt my Humbug stony heart begin to melt and a sense of excitement emerge as the combination of aromatic Christmas spices began to circulate the house.


Christmas morning dawned and we awoke before the kids – something I still need to get used to, although the Princess had been sniffing around the balls in her stocking for at least an hour – and I lay there for a few moments and questioned how I felt about the day now. Then in bounded Kurt, a ball of puppyish excitement, followed by NC, who snuggled into bed next to Scrooge to share a mutual look of disdain at how the brainless half of the family sucks them into this annual festivity so cruelly each year.


And in spite of the temperature, the lack of snow men and the distinct whiff of barbies being heated in readiness, Christmas had arrived.

Middle-Aged Slip Slop Slap

Skin care is of prime importance when you reach middle age, because every exposure to those scary UV rays has the ghastly potential to create another line on your face or a melanoma.

English: Peking Duck, being dried for 5 hours.
English: Peking Duck, being dried for 5 hours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Gone are the days when us POMS would whizz off to some Mediterranean hotspot for our annual two weeks of holiday, slap oils with as much skin protection as olive oil all over our bodies, and then fry until we were a Peking Duck shade of brown.


Similar to the dangers of smoking cigarettes, eating red meat and drinking too much alcohol, in those days we were naïve to the inherent dangers of a tan, of course. For us a tan symbolized healthiness and fitness, rather than impending doom.


There’s nothing healthy about a tan.


But there’s also no greater feeling than lying in the sun for a few hours after a hard week spent in air conditioning, creating some vitamin D; an important commodity for the health of our bones at this time of our lives.


The old man and I are partial to our local outdoor pool for our place of sun worship, mainly because there’s no sand to contend with. It also has a wonderful terrace area, which due to its position at a distance from the pool, is child free and generally full of attractive twenty to thirty year olds, many of whom are obviously gay men who have a pleasing knack for looking after their bodies.


CHILD FREE…and the coffee’s not bad, either.


There is absolutely no better way to soothe a Sunday morning hangover than a perv at the local pool, where you can stock up on vitamin D and caffeine, swim twenty lengths and convince yourself that’s the exercise for the week done, all at the same time.


But with no shade on aforementioned CHILD FREE balcony, it’s not a place for the fair skinned, English Rose. Australia is a harsh habitat to live in for those deficient in melanin and it can turn even the most experienced British sunbather into a lobster within minutes, much to the delight of the local community.


Embed from Getty Images


The old man and I have been arguing over sun creams of late – and yes, our life really is that interesting. Rather like coffee, wine, knickers and men, it’s just so hard to find the perfect sunscreen. They are either too gloopy, as runny as milk, take ages to rub in (or don’t rub in all), or you need a second mortgage to pay for them.


Which is a first world problem, I know, but it can turn even sunbathing into a chore.


The old man has settled on one of these new-fangled sprays, but never one to give from his wallet lightly, he acquired his can at Aldi. I, on the other hand, although happy to use my Aldi purchases in the privacy of my own home, refuse to let everyone know the true state of our finances at our local pool. And I’ve also become a bit of an expert when it comes to sun screen (compromised as I am by skin as white as alabaster) and have road tested all the cheap brands over forty years of sunbathing.


So the only brand that works for me is Le Tan Coconut Spray, which as the name suggests,  conjures up wonderful memories of sun, sand, sex and Pina Coladas in the South of France in the good old days when I used to feign ignorance about sun damage and would douse myself as liberally in oil as Kim’s arse in THOSE recent photos.


Yesterday, I watched the old man spray his Aldi screen all over him like perfume, with what could only be described as a smug grin on his face, (which is his ‘I’m saving money’ face), aimed at me, as I lathered my body more carefully with my coconut spray.


(These petty little competitions keep our marriage alive, I hasten to add).


Later that day, during our well-deserved afternoon nap – a treat for all that hard work at the pool – I watched the angry lines of redness appear on his chest, like Masai tribal markings, where the spray had missed his body, and smiled smugly too.