Proctor : February 2018
59 PROCTOR | February 2018 In praise of tradition Backyard cricket and other causes to celebrate Australia is a country of many great traditions, reflecting our strong and enduring national trait of being fairly keen on taking a day off. I suspect we would happily celebrate national Tinea Awareness Day if it involved a public holiday, particularly if that holiday fell the day after State of Origin. Indeed, at least one political party called for an Origin public holiday, plus three others, which would bring the total number of public holidays in Queensland to around 163. Another fine Australian tradition is putting the boot into the Poms after we win the Ashes, and I am pleased to say that as I type this the Ashes are back where they should be, in Australia. Well, technically they aren’t actually here, since the Poms refuse to hand them over even when we win (apparently the Ashes get airsick and cannot travel internationally). We do have a very nice replica of them though, which looks a great deal like the real Ashes – appropriate really, since England sent out a very nice replica of a cricket team, just like an actual cricket team, apart from the bit where you actually have to play cricket. As I type this, my family is getting over another great source of traditions – Christmas. Christmas, as we all know, is the celebration of that day, 2000-odd years ago, when in a divine moment that would inspire people throughout the world for generations to come, the first Christmas Day backyard cricket game was started (followed almost immediately by the first backyard cricket argument, as to whether or not the one- hand, one-bounce rule applied even if the fielder was not holding a stubbie). 1 Indeed, some families take this tradition so seriously that these Christmas Day battles have been the training ground for many professional cricketers, as well as a fertile source of family, criminal and estate work, depending on how serious the argument gets over the course of the day. Our family’s Christmas traditions do not involve backyard cricket, as my wife and children display extremely poor taste – which I can only assume comes genetically through my wife’s side – having so far displayed the same overall interest and passion for cricket as they do for Tracing Transcontinental Sand Transport (this is a real thing, and you can read all about it in Volume 18, Number 11 of the Journal of Sedimentary Research, which is also – inexplicably – a real thing). It was a traditional part of my family’s Christmas Day when I was growing up, and even into adulthood when – the last time we played – I bowled my brother first ball, and consequently decided to retire from Christmas cricket and just lord it over him for the rest of our lives (it is also for this same reason that I have only ever played chess once with my mate Mal, retiring after my victory to ensure an all-time 100% record against him; the secret to happiness is knowing when to quit). We do have some of our own Christmas traditions of course. For example, we never put our decorations up before 1 December, although to be honest this is because the previous year’s decorations are often still up well into November. I can assure you that I leave the decorations up due to the fact that I strive to preserve the magic of Christmas for my children for as long as possible, and not because I am as lazy as a union rep on Valium; remember that if you drive past my place and the Christmas lights are still up. Another tradition we have is ensuring that Santa and his reindeer are fully provided for when they visit our house – an exercise which has become more elaborate each year, to the point that very soon Santa will be sitting down to filet mignon and Grange, and his reindeer will be getting hand-fed quinoa and julienned carrots while having their hooves done. This year my daughter insisted that each reindeer be provided with its own carrot, and she baked cookies for Santa and left him a bag to take the cookies with him if he couldn’t eat them all then and there. Clearly, my daughter is an extremely kind and caring individual, or she has cottoned on to the value of bribes. After a long night of staying up late to ensure Santa’s filet mignon is the way he likes it and that all the reindeer have perfect hooves, there is nothing like having a good lie-in and being awoken by the sound of birds tweeting on a bright Christmas morning – and indeed, every Christmas morning my wife and I wake up nothing like that. The tradition my children have established is to wake us up at 4.55am by jumping up and down and screaming, ‘Santa’s been!’ at the same approximate volume of an AC/DC concert. After the presents are opened and at least two of them have been broken or have proved to require special batteries made only in Latvia before they will operate, we have breakfast and my wife and I take turns at rescuing each other from drowning after we fall asleep face-down in our cereal (if this sounds familiar, it is the same thing that happens in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). All in all though, we had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you and yours did as well. Here’s hoping it braced you for the year ahead, filled your heart with joy and left you with the same seasonal thoughts that I had – that is, that one day my kids will have kids of their own, and they will be the ones being woken at dawn; I will then laugh myself sick. Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2018. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor. Notes 1 No.