It was a most atypical christmas, in many ways. First, I’ve never actually been in the thick of christmas celebrations, on account of me not being christian for a start. Plus I’ve had a few passing encounters with christmas at other peoples’ houses, but it was always a tangential thing. In Israel, the holy land, christmas is not even a holiday, and all the action happens near and in the palestinian territory. Last year, I was in the lab. I was in the lab this year as well, but only for a short time, just enough to feed some birds I’m taking care of, which is a post all by itself. But Diana was spending her first christmas away from home, and insisted on doing SOMETHING, so we had a small party/celebration in the house that we were taking care of for a friend of a friend. The only reason we were house-sitting was that this house was a ten minute walk away from the beach. The beach at Bondi. The favourite destination of Australians during christmas week. Despite the lingering tension in the air due to the riots the previous week,- indeed, we saw groups of police officers patrolling the streets and the beach- we decided to make it a christmas at the beach. Christmas is usually associated with snow, and not hot sun and deliciously cold sea water. I always avoided going into the pacific ocean, but this time I decided to brave it and spent 15-20 mins in freezing water, so cold that all my hair stood on end even underwater. In the sky above, a biplane lazily wrote cryptic messages, while a lifeguard told off kids for trying to swim in areas clearly delineated as not swimming areas. The meal we had was vegetarian. Gasp. None of the others had ever been subjected to such a blatant indignity, especially at Christmas time, but X cooked a really cool meal that more than made up for any burnt animal.