Christmas means many different things to many different people and, of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas. Also for many, Christmas isn’t so much a religious thing, but more an excuse or obligation for family and whatever to get together; it can be a blessing or a curse. For us, Christmas has, for many years, been a reason to go going camping in the bush; getting away from the mad, mad, world at perhaps the maddest time of year. We’ve tended to do the family thing a week or more before Christmas Day, so that we can be in the bush well before the post-festive crowds start to dribble in looking for campsites. It also usually means some very relaxing days with friends, both pre and post-Christmas, as they too come in after carrying out their own obligations.
Being out in the bush also brings you back to a more basic lifestyle, harking back to a foregone era when you made do with simple cooking methods and utensils (though we do have a reasonable collection of latter day mod cons – a fridge for cold beer is essential). However, there is something about campfire cooking that simply cannot be emulated back home in a normal kitchen or BBQ. We’ve cooked venison (given to us by a deer hunter after rescuing one of his dogs) in a camp oven, with the most delightful results and failed miserably trying to repeat the same at home (in a regular oven) with another piece of the same venison. Maybe it’s the mood that adds to the flavour, but whatever the reason, bush cooking still stands out on its own.
So while the cooking progresses, a bush Christmas allows a bit of levity to unfold, taking one’s mind away from the seriousness and tediousness of regular life, especially for the city folk. It’s totally irreverent and makes the camping even more enjoyable from what it normally is, especially when compared to the often choreographed themes one finds in more formal surroundings back in the city. And there’s no one about trying to sell you a politically correct theme.
And when the food is finally ready, absolutely no one is disappointed with the results. There are entrées of seafood and all assortment of other delights, and mains of roast meats and vegetables, a feast fit for a king and queen. It’s a fun time for all, especially for the furry kids who have a ball running around, chasing dragons (our girl hound spends hours trying to catch dragonflies), swimming and then coming in when dinner is called. Even the local wildlife come visiting to see what all the fuss is about.
And after all the feasting is over, it’s time for some recovery, as life in the bush at Christmas time can wear you down a tad. But the rest is essential, so that you can be ready for more fun and frivolity as the festive season invariably continues into the evening and night. No one is really immune to the effects of the Christmas dinner, or lunch as tends to be the norm for us when in the bush. You just go with the flow and whatever moods suits you.
And as night falls, the lights go on and the fun and the show continues, causing many a passer-by to stop and have a better look at what this crowd is doing. It might not compete with the light shows in the suburbs, but it sure stands out in the bush at night. And the mood is completely different to what you find in the suburbs; if you stop and listen, all you hear are the sounds of the fire crackling and the night creatures doing their thing, quite the change from the usual city melee.
Come the morning, there may be a few sore heads, droopy eyes and tired bodies, but as the sun rises over the mountains and day warms up, all becomes good once again. At the end of the day, perhaps Christmas isn’t such a terrible time of year afterall, especially considering how, where and with whom it’s enjoyed, and more so when it’s a Bush Christmas.
And that’s what we’ll be doing once again this Christmas. So a Merry Christmas to you all, wherever you happen to be at the time.
Update: And a great Christmas it was.