Unlike most bloggers, I rarely say anything about my personal life. But I think Christmas is a good occasion to make an exception to that. As I always do, I attended a large family gathering on Christmas morning -- with "family" being very loosely defined. It is however essentially the same gathering I have been attending for many years. And, like most Australian Christmas gatherings, it is totally secular -- with no religious allusions at all. All the people there are however very good-hearted unbelievers. They even laugh at my jokes, so what more can I ask?

A small sadness for me was that, out of the 17 people present, there were only two children and one teenager. What used to be a very child-centered gathering still is a child-centred gathering but most of the "children" have now grown up and are young adults. No doubt the young adults concerned will one day have children of their own but the longer they leave parenthood, the fewer children they will eventually have, of course. So my family occasion did in a very small way encapsulate a problem that the whole of Western civilization is having -- too few children to replace itself.

I was delighted to see that one of the presents received by the small boy present was a pictorial "Encyclopedia of modern military aircraft" -- something that almost any boy would enjoy but which is of course totally politically incorrect. But the boy's father is a former Royal Air Force man so no doubt he too would be incorrect to the unhappy minds of the Left.

We had a "secret Santa" session before the "real" presents were given out and it was a really fun thing to do, with lots of laughs. I ended up with a "crumb sweeper" -- a small ceramic pig made in China that had a tiny electic motor in that turned it into a mini-vacuum-cleaner. I promised to take it with me next time I go to a Chinese restaurant -- to suck up straying grains of rice!

One of my stepdaughters spent a year in the U.K. recently, most of it in Scotland, and I asked her over breakfast what she thought of the Scots. "Loved them. Lovely people", she said. "But they were glad I was Australian". I too have great affection for the Scots. I even married one once. But Australians probably see the Scots in their best light. The Scots still loathe the English and they see Australians as fellow-sufferers from English oppression! Rather mad, really. But there is a definite streak of craziness in the Scots -- not the least of which is their intensely socialist outlook. But Scots outside Scotland seem to be heavily conservative -- as we know from America's Scots-Irish population (See also here). So it doesn't seem to be genetic. I once did some survey research on the Scottish difference which is reported here.

The weather was normal Australian Christmas weather -- hot and humid. So the various Bing Crosby Christmas songs that were being played in the background ("Jingle Bells" etc.) were referring to a different world. It did however show that culture trumps climate. I did of course eat too much but I think I will draw a discreet curtain over that.

In the evening, I watched the Queen's Christmas message on TV, as I usually do. Every Christmas day the Queen broadcasts a short message to Britain and the other Commonwealth countries and it is always a positive message stressing important basics. She started out this time by stressing that Christmas is a Christian holiday so according to the politically correct brigade she was being most offensive to millions of people. In the British sphere of influence, however, what the Queen does and says is proper by definition so she does not have to worry about petty would-be dictators. Her message also stressed the importance of Britain's different ethnic communities living peacefully together and there were lots of shots of her and her family talking to British subjects of Indian origin. I have always liked Indians and got on well with them so I was delighted to see her extending such acceptance to them.

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