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Christmas with our pollies: Anthony Albanese, Penny Wong and Arthur Sinodinos on how they spend Christmas
How do you reverse a lousy year and enjoy Christmas? The Big Smoke looks to Australian pollies for Chrimbo inspo. What traditions do they treasure, and who will they spend the big day with?
No doubt, 2016 has been a bumpy year, not only for Australia but for the world over. In fact, you could blindly grope into the bag of assorted headlines and retrieve something that tastes bitter on the tongue. Aleppo. Trump. Orlando. Pick your liquorice.
However, with Christmas a handful of days away, that most notable of days serves as an annual stretch. A momentary pause from the outside world to find our place amongst family and friends – whatever that looks like for us.
But what is true for us, also holds for our elected officials.
So in drinking that Christmas spirit, we’ve rudely poked our head over the fences of some of our most engaging politicians to see how they spend the big day.
Penny Wong – Senate Leader of the Opposition
Mum is one of five girls, so Christmas in our family is usually a big family occasion – lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. When we were younger, we did a Christmas draw, and each person would buy for one other in the extended family. These days, we all just buy for the kids, which has been pretty good for our daughters!
It’s been a family tradition for everyone involved to be responsible for certain dishes – one aunt does the turkey, another the Christmas pudding, another the brandy custard sauce (one of the best things about Christmas I think!). I usually do the seafood brunch – prawns and smoked salmon.
This year we’ll spend the first part of the day with Mum and the aunts, then we’ll be up at Sophie’s parents. They live on a farm in the Adelaide Hills. Our daughters love it up there. I’m sure post lunch activities will involve feeding the horses and a visit to the dam.
I usually try to get to church on Christmas Eve, and get in a swim at the beach at some point. Might have to wait until Boxing Day this year.
The two things I want most this year are a sleep in, and lots of time with the kids, but given my girls are now 2 and 5, I suspect these two wishes won’t be compatible.
Anthony Albanese – Labor MP for Grayndler, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Tourism
For me, there are two key elements to Christmas – family and rest.
Ours is a hectic household. So when holidays come, we embrace them wholeheartedly.
For someone involved in politics, the best thing about December and January is that the political world goes quiet.
All over the country, as Australians begin to relax, the last thing anyone wants to hear about is politics.
That is as it should be. People want to spend time with their families and hear about their news, not the news of the endless political news cycle.
Indeed, the holiday period is a great time for all of us to reflect on what really matters in our lives, free of the restraints of work and other pressures.
For most of us, myself included, what really matters is family.
My Christmas will be spent at home in Sydney.
We’ll cook and eat and talk about the old times and, in the process, be reminded of how lucky we are to have each other.
In between all of that, we’ll read and swim and snooze. We’ll walk the dog. And from the first ball on Boxing Day I will be chilling out in front of the television.
Later, in January, we’ll join the great Australian exodus to the beach, to the South Coast of NSW where the sun warms your heart as well as your body and where the water seems somehow to prepare us for the year ahead.
I hope all Australians have a great Christmas. And I hope our nation has a fantastic 2017.
Arthur Sinodinos – Senate Cabinet Secretary
I grew up in a migrant household in Newcastle.
The first order of business on Christmas Day was go to the local Greek Orthodox church and then hurry home to open our presents and have lunch.
Now with three children, order and routine have gone out the window.
It’s a struggle to stop them opening their gifts on Christmas Eve, let alone waiting until after church.
The three amigos jump up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from their beds seemingly at dawn’s early light, mass at the top of the stairs before making an assault on the Christmas tree downstairs.
Elizabeth and I blearily troop down and before you know it the room is strewn with packaging and ribbons.
In the meantime the in-laws, brothers, sisters and cousins gather for an all-in lunch that stretches from early afternoon and into the evening as various stragglers turn up.
The food is a combination of Australian seafood, Greek salads and tasty home-made Cypriot sausages along with the traditional turkey roast.
After that you can only be felled by an elephant gun.
Enjoy Christmas, marvel at this great country we share and how we can help those less fortunate.