Living in a Muslim country makes for a surprisingly awesome Christmas. The difficulties and complexities are stripped away, or at least easily ignored, and from this distance it’s very hard to insult anyone or be insulted by anyone in the heat of a December moment. There is no stress of trying to get from the music concert across to the kindergarten graduation and then home to have a shower and scrub the toilet before the babysitter comes and you leave for the work Christmas show. And you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to cater for 27 people when, even if you use the good plates, you’ve only got 16.

There is, of course, the melancholy and the yearning for Christmases past, but (and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear this), I quite like that bit.

So I don’t have any major stresses or whinges. But I do have a few little grinches which seem to come up from year to year, so herewith, my little list of Christmas grinches (because it’s either that or some sentimental piece about grief and the layers of time and I’m sure you’ve had enough of those):

1. I cannot stand anything set to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas. Sorry Annabel Crabb, this includes you. However witty, however informed, however contemporary, if you are setting words to this carol, you will evoke an image of a work Christmas skit which includes men dressed as women or possibly men dressed in fairy wings.

2. I would like to know (or perhaps I would not like to know) how many Christmas letters begin with the following: ‘Well, I can hardly believe it’s time to sit down and write this letter…’ or some variation on that theme (‘I can hardly believe another year has passed’, ‘Can you believe it’s been a year…’ and so on).

3. I’m not sure that I’m totally jiggy with the whole ‘give a goat’ thing. I have worked or volunteered in many NGOs and I know the thought that goes into fundraising and awareness raising. I know that there is probably endless discussion at staff meetings, board meetings and so on and that overall and taking everything into account, they are considered to be a good thing. I’m also pretty sure I have handed my brother a card telling him that I bought a goat or a latrine or somesuch on his behalf. But I dunno, it isn’t really a gift, is it? It feels a little bit earnest, and a touch patronising in its assumption that the person receiving the card needs you to intervene and do their good works for them. Also, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the first world gifts to the third world dynamic it perpetuates.

4. At this time of year, I get a lot of hits on my blog by people who appear to be looking for the recipe for nuts and bolts made with nutri grain and curry powder. People, it’s 2010. Move on.

5. I also get a lot of hits for people looking for the Magic Cave. My advice? Go and look at the Magic Cave, but if you want to see Santa Claus/Father Christmas, go down to Myer. Although the days of just turning up and being the second in line have gone, it’s still a heaps shorter wait than at the Magic Cave. And they let you take your own photographs, and don’t put any pressure on you at the end to buy theirs.
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and a propos of nada, a Christmas photograph from the archives
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Road Closed, Loxton, South Australia
If you’re interested, you can catch a bus from Adelaide or even Mildura to see the Loxton lights. I just see them as part of my Christmas family visiting, but there’s a shirtload of buses making the trip.