23 September 2019

My Christmas: Amy Birchall

| Amy M
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Christmas dinner table. Photo: iStock

Former RiotACT editor Amy Birchall remains an occasional contributor from her new home in Thailand, and will be back working on the site for a couple of weeks this summer. She’s a fan of the entire Love Actually soundtrack and says that for her, every Christmas is the same, and every Christmas is wonderful.

What I love most about Christmas is the food. From gingerbread houses and my Baka’s vanilla shortbread moon biscuits, to ham off the bone, fruit mince tarts and apricots fresh off my parents’ trees, there’s no better time of the year to be someone who really likes to eat. I’ve been living in Thailand since January, and this is the first time I haven’t been in Australia in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s a completely different feeling. Sure, our local supermarket stocks Christmas-themed doughnuts and a small, tinsel-wrapped tree, but it’s not the same! Fortunately, I’ll be back in Australia with just enough time to indulge, using the spirit of Christmas as a good excuse.

What I like least about Christmas is doing battle with the shopping centre crowds. As anyone who has ever picked up Christmas prawns from Costco will know, the experience is like something out of a horror movie. To everyone working in retail this Christmas, I salute you! It’s a thankless job.

My best ever Christmas was … The thing about doing the same thing for Christmas every year is that it all blurs into one magical experience. Every Christmas is the same, and every Christmas is wonderful.

My favourite Christmas song is Billy Mack’s Christmas Is All Around, from Love Actually. Or anything else from the Love Actually soundtrack.

My favourite Christmas film is Love Actually.

I celebrate on Christmas Eve with my extended family. We’ve always celebrated Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. We have a big, traditional Christmas dinner with my grandparents, cousins and great auntie. If the weather’s nice, we’ll eat on the deck or balcony. When I was younger, my sisters and cousins and I would go looking for Santa after dinner. By the time we got back, Santa had visited and put all of our presents under the tree, ready for us to open. That’s changed now that we’re all grown up, but it’s something that will probably continue with the next generation once they’re out of nappies.

I celebrate on Christmas Day by continuing the festivities. I stay at my parent’s place every Christmas Eve, which is just as well because I’m too full to drive anywhere myself. We open family presents in the morning, and after nibbling on a bit of gingerbread house I head off to celebrate Christmas with my partner James’s family. We usually have lunch with one side of his family and dinner with the other. It’s a huge day, but we haven’t seen most of his rellies in more than a year, so it will be nice to catch up over a few cocktails.

On Boxing Day I take it easy, usually with a big sleep in followed by a strong coffee. We don’t have family Boxing Day traditions, but the cricket is always on in the background regardless of what else is happening. I run my own business, and I love the time between Boxing Day and New Year because the emails stop. It’s wonderful to relax fully.

The gift I’d most like to give this Christmas is presents for people living in aged care facilities who have no family or friends. Being lonely and present-less on Christmas must be just awful. There’s a great Australian organisation that gives gifts to people who otherwise wouldn’t receive any, called Boxes for Christmas.

For Christmas this year I’d like books and Kindle vouchers to buy more books.


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