Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas - pre and post

We found ourselves very busy in the lead-up to Christmas with lots to do and organise for Christmas and our month away from home. We visited the zoo to see Zoo Lights – some beautiful light displays, with fairy tale, Christmas and nursery rhyme themes, set up throughout the Lincoln Park Zoo. 

We had a fall of snow a week or so before we left the city. This was a little unseasonal and put the city inhabitants in a bit of a tizz, but allowed Luc and I to have some serious snowball fights. Paul and Luc made snow angels on the roof deck. Nicolas was intrigued by the cold white stuff and had a great time crawling about in it and thought it hilarious when Luc was hit by snowballs.  

My brother Ian came to stay with us in the last week before we left. Thank you very much Ian for taking such good uncle-care of the boys while we ran around trying to organise last minute items. When Ian arrived at around midnight, Luc woke and the first thing Luc said to Ian was a bleary “Sears Tower?” Ian had no idea what he was talking about… but we made the obligatory visit the next day, taking in the view of Chicago’s skyline. We froze our way through Millennium Park and saw a few downtown sights. Ian and I made a trip down to Hancock Tower one evening to have a cocktail and chat about life – with an amazing backdrop of city and Christmas lights. Michigan Avenue was lit up with trees bound in lights. It makes so much more sense to see deciduous trees wrapped in lights than the Christmas lights on leaf-clad trees in Australia. The cold kept us indoors a little more than usual. 

We went to Mary and Clark’s ‘Open House’ on the 9th December. Paul was not keen on attending this as he really didn’t want to see a ‘home on the market’. When he found out that the term ‘open house’ really meant a Christmas party with a flexible time frame (i.e. turn up when you like between 4pm and 8pm), he was much more interested. We had a lovely time meeting more locals, Mary’s charismatic Dad and feasting on festive treats including hot apple cider. 

The days before we were to leave were chaotic. I spent the day before rushing around organising Christmas cards when I discovered that the ones that I thought I had ordered… hadn’t been. Some Christmas gifts were dropped off the night before we were to leave, and presents for our nephews finally arrived (thankfully) just as we were about to leave for the airport. Thank you so much to Christmas Elf Ann who very unexpectedly turned up at our door bearing hot lattes on the morning of our departure. This was such a welcome diversion and did much to still our frazzled nerves. 

Luc and Nicolas are having a lovely time catching up with their cousins Jacob and Sam and various aunts and uncles staying out at the farm in Chinchilla. Riding the quad bikes, tractors and go-cart have been highlights, as has, choosing a Christmas tree, splashing in a small pool, playing with their Christmas loot, watching movies together and generally being boisterous boys. 

Australia is having wacky weather at present. Prior to our arrival, temperatures in the 40’s (over 105+F) were being experienced with high winds and major bushfires in Victoria and Tasmania. We had some sensationally warm and comfortable weather when we first arrived, a very mild Christmas and now we are wearing what few winter items we brought with us. Thankfully some rain has arrived in Chinchilla, and hopefully enough has fallen to do some good. 

Down south is another matter… snow has been falling on the high peaks. Mt Kosciuszko (Australia’s tallest peak – even though it doesn’t actually qualify as a mountain) has had snow. Keep warm Mandy and Craig – who are camping up there at the moment! Tasmania’s Mt Wellington produced a white Christmas – much to the surprise and delight of local children and visiting tourists. Mum and Dad have experienced hail and black ice on the roads. They have even turned the heating on. These would be unusual conditions for winter let alone the summer. My sister Jenni and her partner Sebastien are out from France and staying with mum and dad. Sebastien has demanded the money back for his flight, as the promised summer weather is not in evidence! 

Photo: Cousins cooling down in the pool on Christmas Day. From left to right: Nicolas, Sam, Jacob & Luc.

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