It’s a funny time, Christmas in Byron Bay.
On one side, I’ve got neighbours who despise any mention of Santa Claus, while on the other, at my in-laws, we’re given enough food and presents for at least double the size of our party. Indulgence hits the extreme and Byron Bay swings into full commercial, every man for himself mode.
Inside, televisions are relaying the popular conception of a white Christmas – with frosted bells jingling, snowmen, pine trees and warm hearths – while outside, it’s just bloody hot. The dry bushland throbs with cicadas, people are wearing Santa hats with board shorts and families are playing backyard cricket.
I made a few good catches yesterday and proved, for an ageing dad, I’ve still got it (sort of). I also borrowed my mum again this year from my second home in White Gum Valley, Western Australia. However, this time she came with one of my four brothers, who I managed to drag down to the back of Broken Head at the day’s end.
I led the way, barefoot across a cliff face, waving at a couple of friendly girls relaxing on a grassy headland before descending to the beach. Pandanus palms stood in front of a patch of pebbles, which gave way to smooth sand – now tinged with soft light – a sea frothing with shades of white, green and blue, and a pinkish sky.
The sea was warm and I laughed with my brother, who I don’t see very often. It was another reminder of how much I have in my life and that my family (me included) is still a bit odd.
I know it’s a funny time of year for many. Wherever you are, I hope you have enough food, shelter and maybe, if you’re really lucky, a beach like I do.
A safe and happy festive season to you and yours.