Reasons to realise that Christmas is Fast Approaching...
In my world of work,
the sure signs that Christmas is around the corner
are when my tradies start rolling their eyes when I ask them to take on new jobs,
my suppliers start sucking in their breath when I ask about lead times,
and when everybody suddenly decides that they want their houses
sorted before Christmas,
in readiness for the beautiful Summer Season which awaits us.
But I got to thinking and pondering,
what are the less tangible signs that Christmas is Fast Approaching?
They are, it seems, the elements involving sight, sound and taste mostly -
those elements which immediately evoke a sense of impending magic & festivity,
of holidays and laughter.
To an Australian, brought up on the expectation that Christmas symbolises
the start of the glorious Summer Season,
replete with long golden days and balmy evenings,
lunches in gardens and dinners on rooftop terraces,
basking in the warmth of the summer-scented air,
there are a few elements which are perhaps the most poignant herald of this season.
Starting with the unmistakable purple bloom of the Jacaranda tree,
showering the city streets, parks and private gardens
in carpets of lilac rain every November,
from northern Cairns to southern Adelaide;
a sight of almost impossible beauty,
and the very first sign that Christmas is close by.
To me, the colour of the Jacaranda flower is the first colour of Christmas.
And when the first boxes of locally grown cherries are stacked high in the markets,
their happy red colour, in tones from pale pink to dark, dark vermillion,
holding the promise of impossible sweetness and summer-ness,
then it's impossible not to think "Christmas is Coming".
From mid November to the end of December,
this is the king of Christmas fruits - the shortness of the season
emphasising the fleeting, yet precious, nature of the Yuletide.
And the rich red of the cherry is the second colour of Christmas.
Hot on the heels of the cherries are the juicy mangoes
from the north of Australia, suddenly in such plentiful supply that
they can be bought by the box - that truly is luxury on the nth scale.
Suddenly everybody is craving fruit salad as the first stone fruits appear:
juicy peaches, sweet nectarines.
Menus turn to lighter dishes of Asian flavours,
Thai basil, mint & coconut embrace the new spring fruits.
The lure of the beach is a universal thing, it would seem,
so symbolic is it of holidays and happy days and sunshine;
but in these late spring days, the ones which tease of summer to come,
the attraction of the salted water which rings our island country
makes us fall in love with the ocean all over again.
New swimwear is eagerly purchased,
swimming pools are given the once over as they change
from the Reflecting Ponds of winter
to sparkling, tumbling pools of splashing water.
And so blue, in all of it's tones from watery pale aqua
to deep ocean, is the third colour of Christmas to me.
At the races, the garden parties, the late brunches on rose-covered terraces,
the spring sunshine entices fabrics in every shade of White,
as if to embrace the new sun-drenched days.
(Not that we Melbournians can ever quite let go our beloved Black,
but we have been known to succumb to the warm days of spring and summer
in floaty dresses of gauzy white while the fine men sport suits of creamy white linen.
White blouses appear, perhaps still worn with black skirts,
but often with white ones. White jeans replace dark blue ones.
The city streets change from a Sea of Black, to Drifts of White.
White linen sofas assume "that would be nice" status,
while alfresco settings are freshened with new white paint,
tiny gardenias and huge magnolia flowers scent the garden and table in creamy white splendour
and hurricane lamps are filled with white candles.
Which makes white the fourth colour of Christmas.
For me, and for countless other Australians,
the November explosion of blue and white nodding flower balls of Agapanthus
on roundabouts, street verges & front gardens,
from the north of the country to the south, from city street to country avenue,
immediately kindles the anticipation that Christmas is very close.
Although a South African plant by origin,
this tough little evergreen plant has been adopted as a symbol of Christmas
across Australia, the periwinkle/royal blue and crisp white flowers looking so
refreshing on a sunny day.
And when the winter boots are packed away,
it's so exciting to step out in summer sandals in pale blush tones,
with matching nails in shades of peach and palest pink.
The roses are blooming, the paperbark trees are covered in creamy blossom -
it's a time for pale colours to glow in their moment in the sun.
Even if the days can sometimes still be a little chilly,
there are always intrepid souls who declare that Sandal Season is Upon Us
as soon as November appears.
All of these elements capture the freshness of the approaching summer holiday season,
forever entwined in an Australian heart with Christmas;
but there is one element which is universal to the Christmas lead up,
whether in frosty snow or sandy beach,
and that is the Spontaneity of Sparkles.
As if to symbolise the ephemeral nature of the Magical Season,
we suddenly require no other reason than "because it's almost Christmas"
to enjoy a glass of sparkling bubbles with loved ones.
And perhaps that is the best reason of all to
celebrate, rather than to panic,
that Christmas is Fast Approaching.
jacaranda trees blooming on adelaide streets // cherries: trees growing at red hill, photo by me; cherry, rose & watermelon salad with shortbread; cherry ice cream cake; cherries // mango tart // swimwear campaign from zimmermann // shades of winter on the streets of melbourne // agapanthus growing in mount martha, photo by me // blush tones: the best nail polish I have discovered, and it's cruelty free! kester black; vegan sandals from kurt geiger london // sparkles: gown, flutes, champagne saucers