Christmas is by far my favorite holiday and unlike Thanksgiving I have never spent a Christmas without my family. Thanksgiving this year on the other side of the world was difficult mostly because it’s not celebrated at all in Australia. I had a very anti-Thanksgiving; including a HIIT class in the AM, some beach time, sushi for dinner, and cake at Kurtosh with a friend to round off the night. The only thing that made it remotely feel like Thanksgiving was that it was significantly colder that night than the others that week – just a tiny piece of the fall weather. It wasn’t traditional whatsoever and that day was my first real dose of homesickness. The bright side is that for what Australia lacked on turkey day they are making up for it with Christmas tenfold. Decorations like in the Westfield mall in Bondi Junction were up before Halloween! Seemingly over night both large and small touches went up all over the city and suburbs and everyday more and more is added. Sydney is beginning to look a lot like Christmas even if it’s been consistently in the 70s.
Things to do in Sydney to get into the Christmas spirit:
- Listen to carolers – there’s pretty much someone caroling any day of the week, it may be the rotating groups at Martins Place or in your neighborhood.
- See the Nutcracker – a classic ballet at the opera house currently running until December 18.
- Visit the Christmas Market at the Rocks – they are running Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (I would recommend going on Saturday or Sunday to get all the vendors).
- Grab a holiday cocktail at the Push Bar.
- Send Christmas cards home – during November and December stamps for cards are at a discounted price of $2.20 from the usual $3.20 AUD. The catch is that it must be an enveloped letter.
- Volunteer or donate to local charities. The Red Cross is always looking for gently worn donations. If there’s one in your area drop off any unwanted items (spring cleaning, right?). Volunteer opportunities are abundant as well you just need to have a direction in mind (animals, soup kitchens, nature, etc.) and then do some research or reach out in local Facebook groups for some direction. I recently saw an experience on AirBnb that was cooking class “transforming rescued surplus food into restaurant quality meals that are then delivered directly to local disadvantaged communities. It’s a social impact experience where 100% of the fee goes to the organzation.
- Watch Christmas Movies – Being in Australia doesn’t reduce the amount of Christmas movies there are available on Netflix so binge away. I haven’t seen it yet, but Last Christmas in the theaters is supposedly really good (if you go to Event Cinemas there’s a Groupon for discounted tickets).
It’s going to be a weird Christmas for me, but at least now I know I won’t make this a habit. I’ll try to be home with my family this time next year to celebrate properly. Just know if you are feeling lonely or like I keep hearing that, “it just doesn’t feel like Christmas,” you’re not alone. Reach out to other travelers and attend an event or go see a movie together.