“Wouldn’t it be lovely,” said my wife a few days ago, eyes misting over as the fantasy took shape, “to have a White Christmas”.
“We could go on one of those trips where they visit those special Christmas markets, take sleigh rides and stay in hotels with roaring log fires,” she enthused.
I’d seen the brochures of these trips, filled with photographs of people staring at the camera, smiles frozen on their faces as they held up a glass and toasted their newfound friends.
They defined my idea of a travelling purgatory.
“We can’t go on a group tour,” I said. “I don’t even like half of my old friends. I don’t want any new ones.”
“Remember what happened on that cruise,” I reminded her, recalling a fun filled Christmas holiday on which she had made a dozen new friends, all Americans, within hours of boarding the ship.
As it happened they did not appreciate my Australian sense of humour and by the end of the evening, I had managed to offend the entire group.
For the rest of the cruise, whenever anyone saw me approaching they’d hide under a beach towel or jump into the pool.
“And anyway,” I continued. “I’ve had one White Christmas which was one too many.”
It had been in Vancouver, Canada, and had started badly when a man stole my hamburger.
I was about to launch into a Big Mac when, remembering my tendency to wear generous portions of whatever I am eating, I went to get some more paper napkins.
I was a halfway back to my seat when a youth grabbed my hamburger and ran out the door.
I’d been burger-jacked. It was an omen and I should have left for sunnier latitudes immediately.
The next day I crashed my car when it skidded on some ice which caused the Canadian police to take an unhealthy interest in me. Around the same time a man in the house in which I was staying accused me of sleeping with his wife.
I was guilty on the charge of negligent driving but not guilty, sadly, of seduction.
Tired of near freezing to death and with the Mounties and the husband hard on my heels, I fled to Mexico where the people and the climate were more agreeable.
“Well,” she said in that tone which women employ when they are abut to drown their men in sarcasm, “maybe you could organise a non-White Christmas, like that one in Thailand.”
This was the time when to showcase my online skills, I booked a holiday in Thailand on my laptop.
We arrived at night in the middle of a monsoonal downpour and there was no one, as promised, to meet us.
There were no cabs, only utes so we huddled under a leaky canvas awning in the back of one and arrived late, mud spattered, wet and cold.
Did I mention it was New Year’s Eve? We celebrated with a couple of drinks at the bar and fell into bed. On a Romantic Scale of 1 to 10, it failed to register.
The next day, however, dawned fine and clear and I walked out onto the balcony to enjoy the view of the white sandy breach and sparkling blue waters of the bay which I had seen on the website.
Instead, I was looking into the resort’s garbage dump.
There was no shower curtain in the room which didn’t matter because the shower didn’t work and the toilet didn’t flush.
There was no sandy bay, the water was a distinctly un-tropical brown color and the food inedible.
On the first day the electricity failed and on the third day, after chatting with a fellow guest who had been burnt when his shower water heater had exploded into flames, we left.
“You owe me for one week,’’ demanded the mama-san who ran her ramshackle operation from the front desk.
“No stay, no pay,’’ I said grabbing our suitcases and hauling them into the cab.
“That was unfortunate,’’ I conceded.
“The children would love it,’’ she said.
“Staying in a Thai rubbish dump with exploding showers?’’ I asked.
“A White Christmas,’’ she said. “They could throw snowballs.’’
“Or we could go to Noosa, lie in the sun and drink chilled cold wine while the kids went swimming,’’ I countered.
For the moment, the spectre of the White Christmas has been banished but it will return, I know.
Eventually she will triumph as women do, and we will spend a staggering amount of money to stand around in some cobble stoned European town, feet frozen, snow melting into our shoes, faces numb with the cold and singing Silent Night.
Back at our hotel, groups of newfound friends will await us around a roaring log fire, all eager for a nice, friendly chat. Aaggghh!
I suffer several variations of this log fire nightmare and in the most horrific, someone is playing a piano and singing Christmas carols off key and I’m wearing a little name tag on the lapel of my coat which says “Hi, I’m Mike.’’
Tell us, do you feel the same as Mike? Or do you wish you could have a White Christmas?