Welcome to the second in a new festive feature series where I invite Instagram pals from around the world to share their festive stories.
Now in the second week of November and the advertising campaigns on social media, TV, glossy magazines etc are in full swing. With over-spending developed to an unrealistic level of ‘normal’, it can be hard to resist feeling like the ‘odd-one-out’ if you’re not working up to a frenzy of shopping anxiety and party planning by mid-December.
But here’s the thing, Christmas is what you choose to make it. Push the boat out or spend the day in bed, your choice. There are no rules.
On with the storytelling. This week I ask Nina Tobin, who lives in New South Wales and likes to hang out with ‘Ma Nature’… How do you spend Christmas?
Nina Tobin, NSW South Coast
Nina Tobin is a full-time solo parent, freelance travel writer and social worker living in paradise on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Nina loves long walks on the beach, or anywhere remote and adventurous, and climbing cliffs for pleasure. Oh, and she “still believes in Santa”. @ninatobin_writer.
So early riser or late lie-in on the big day? Early riser. My boys used to be up at 5am. Now they’re teenagers, they would sleep until 2pm on Christmas Day, if I let them.
Dressing up. A glittery dress – it’s Christmas after all – or your favourite Santa jumper? It’s often hot at Christmas where I live in Australia. I normally wear a strappy dress and no shoes. We see friends on Christmas Eve and wearing a Santa hat, reindeer antlers, or coloured fairy lights around my neck, is compulsory. One of my friends wears an inflatable Santa suit! We get loads of waves and cheers from locals when we wander along the river and beach in our festive attire on Christmas Eve.
L to R: a dip in the river; a NSW beach; Nina paddleboarding wearing reindeer antlers. Photos courtesy Nina Tobin. [Click on photos to enlarge].
A festive lunch with all the family or a late romantic supper for two? It depends on the year. The boys’ dad and I are divorced and take turns having the kids. When the kids are home, we traditionally eat homemade waffles topped with fruit, ice cream, yoghurt, honey and icing sugar for breakfast. It’s always cherry season in December, so a bowl of fresh, juicy cherries sits on the table alongside chocolates and bon bons. We have Christmas lunch at my friend’s house with her extended Lebanese family, and they really know how to celebrate. They supply enough food to feed a small country – desserts of every kind, Lebanese sweets, salads, vegetables, pig on the spit, sizzling barbecued seafood and meat, and lots of wine!
“We dance in the yard to loud Lebanese music and sing karaoke. My cheeks always get sore from laughing.” Nina Tobin talking about Christmas Day.Tweet
Decorations up from 1st December, complete with flashing reindeer on the roof, or a last minute discreet sprig of holly? The boys and I put the Christmas tree up in November to make the most of the effort. Actually, who am I kidding? I put the tree up. They lost interest in helping years ago! We adorn the tree with the kids’ Santa photos and decorations they made in preschool and primary school.
Gift giving, ‘it’s the thought that counts’ or ‘any excuse to splurge’? A bit of both, really. I’ve taught the kids that the thought is the most important thing. But I also use Christmas as a time to splurge on special gifts.
Do you have your own Christmas traditions that make the season particularly special for you and yours? The way Christmas looks changes each year depending on where my kids are. Sometimes we celebrate with waffle breakfast and gift-giving on Christmas Day, other times we do that on a different day. Some years I’m on my own on Christmas morning, which always feels weird. Christmas lunch is always with my friend’s family. For the last few years, I have put out a Facebook post inviting anyone who is alone or lonely to my house for yard drinks, snacks and a few laughs on Christmas Eve, which brightens people’s spirits, and anyone who is alone is always welcomed to my house on Christmas morning. I usually spend part of the holiday break on or near the water, maybe paddleboarding adorned with reindeer antlers, fairy lights or a Santa hat, or visiting the beach. We also take a family Christmas photo each year.
NSW Australia. Photos courtesy Discover NSW.
Favourite festive film or TV special? Watching Love Actually. On Christmas Eve. With a glass of wine. It’s tradition, and always makes me emotional.
“…anyone who is alone is always welcomed to my house on Christmas morning.”Nina Tobin, travel writer, NSW, Australia.
Has the pandemic changed how you will be celebrating the Festive Season and, if so how? Yes, Covid has definitely changed the way we’ll potentially spend Christmas. Case numbers are rising where I live on the south coast. I’ve been wanting to fly to Queensland for years now to spend Christmas with my mum. It’s a difficult and expensive trip at the best of times. This year was supposed to be the year. However, Queensland has closed its borders to residents of NSW, so I will not see my mum. Again. I might not be able to spend Christmas lunch with my friend and her extended family. But who knows. The world is changing from day to day. I’ll wait and see what it’s like by December before I get too worried about it all.
Nina Tobin is a regular contributor to South Coast Style Magazine. Follow Nina on Instagram at @ninatobin_writer.
Next week I interview Rob Goss, award-winning travel writer specialising in Japan and living in Tokyo. Catch up with more festive interviews in the link below.
How do you spend the Holiday Season? Share your own traditions and festive photos on Twitter and Instagram #christmasaroundtheworld and link up with a tag @hashtagtravelin. And if you enjoyed this blog feature please click the ‘Like’ button below to let me know you’re out there!
However you choose to spend the Holiday Season, I wish you peace and joy.