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Christmas In Coolangatta. 503. Dec 21, 2023


KEY SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 18:24

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.


Well, there are only a few days to Christmas, and some holidayers have already departed from home to enjoy the festivities elsewhere. 

Forty-seven years ago, in 1976, almost to the day, a few surfing buddies and I left Melbourne for the Queensland coast. An ex-Mocopan Coffee Hi-Ace van with the writing still on it, two old station wagons, six people, and a dog took the 1800 km inland highways through Dubbo and Goondiwindi. We were off to sample some of the Sunshine State's surf we'd heard so much about.

Australia changed from miles to kilometres two years earlier, greatly confusing us, and these were also the days of single-lane highways and stone chips, not smooth dual carriageways. 

We were all young and adventurous, and it was our first surfing trip outside Victoria. The oldest was me at 22, and the youngest was John-boy at 17.

At the time, the trip lived up to all we hoped—getting caught in torrential rain, slipping and sliding on muddy mountain roads, driving on the beach for kilometres at Byron Bay, surfing without wetsuits, checking out all the surf shops, and driving around in a hired topless mini-moke. 

But Christmas Day was exceptional. In those days, shops were closed on Christmas Day, including pubs. So there was nowhere we could book in for lunch or even get takeaways except for a chicken shop. We bought a couple of roast chooks, but we needed something special to drink.

I found a pub, then went around the back and kept knocking until somebody answered. Don't have a go at me, that's biblical  :)

(Ok, maybe not the pub bit)

I explained our dilemma and talked the guy into two bottles of champagne out the back door despite it being illegal on Sundays or public holidays. Cash, of course. Everything was cash then. No fantastic plastic. Ahh, the freedom of a cash transaction. 

We dressed in the best clothes we had with us—I even remember wearing my favourite short-sleeved white silky shirt with subtle imprints of similar coloured eagles. It went with the mother-of-pearl eagle pendant on the leather tie around my neck. 

We found a good patch of grass between the tall, well-known Norfolk pine trees by Coolangatta Beach and laid a cloth over the freshly mown greenery underfoot. There was no salad, just chicken and champers, but it was a Christmas to remember. 


You probably have memorable Christmas stories like that one. Christmas gives us a time to celebrate many things, including friendships. I still see a couple of those guys and even surfed with one of them about five years ago. 

At this time of the year, we can get swamped thinking about ourselves and our own plot of busyness. But I believe the Lord would like us to spend some time reflecting on the friendships we enjoy that we often take for granted and how important they are to us.

Along with the mass texts saying "Merry Christmas all", you could ring a few and thank them for their friendship. Just to let them know you're thinking about them. 


Dear Lord, thank you for friends, both Christian and non-Christian, and for the way we make and keep friends. 

Photo by Jon Callow


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