Christmas? Been there and done that!

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Deb Russo is a FIFO wife of the offshore kind. Her husband works on oil rigs and vessels. Typically, he does a four-week-on and four-week-off roster. They've lived their entire 14-year relationship like this. Initially Deb's husband was in the Navy, then he shifted to work in the mines and did the 28/7 roster (Deb's least favourite!) With this offshore roster, though, she wouldn’t change a thing.

It's with great relief that I can tell you we have had Christmas already. Yes done and dusted on 23 November – a full month early.

Santa has been and gone, feast has been held, husband has gone back to work and I am already starting to purchase school supplies for next year.

It's one of the trickier parts of FIFO life, being able to change your mindset for Christmas holidays and other family celebrations. So here are a few tips from someone who's always happy to take a faux Christmas over 25 December:

  • It takes planning (just like the real day) so work out the date for your family and start organising Advent calendars, menus, Santa letters and gifts.
  • Email or text Santa if you don’t plan on doing a second Christmas (which we don’t – Santa really does only come once a year) for the kids. Make sure the kids send their letters on time.
  • Decorate the house like a tinsel bomb exploded.
  • Play carols like you own Woolworths in November.
  • If you do Advent calendars, do the Advent calendar. This is your time!
  • Hang the stockings and fill.
  • On Christmas Eve, Santa will arrive and will eat too many biscuits and drink too much brandy ... he may or may not leave a boot behind (thrown gumboot works a treat) because he had to make a quick getaway.
  • On Christmas Day, enjoy a feast just like you would on the real day. Invite everyone you would normally have for dinner. If they can’t wish you a Merry Christmas in November, ban them ... no anal retentive Grinches allowed.
  • Eat too many prawns and excessive amounts of pavlova followed by badly-played backyard cricket.
  • Argue with Uncle John over his inappropriate jokes about your neighbour Lorne, because what’s Christmas Day without a family quarrel, too much food and too many alcoholic beverages?

But what to do about the 'real day'? Spend it as you like ... go to a friend’s house and celebrate 'their' Christmas. Open gifts from other family members. Take joy in being with others, knowing you've already spent Christmas with your loved ones – and knowing that wonderful times like Christmas are possible because of the sacrifices you make as a family.

As for anyone who tells you Christmas is 25 December, tell them that 2000 years is a long time to play Chinese Whispers about what day a boy was born by a virgin in a stable surrounded by animals and three kings that found him by following a star.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. At this rate I'll be organising Easter by New Years!


More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:

Check out Deb's daily blog at and if you've got any questions for her, please click here.

And here's another oil and gas couple's advice on making FIFO family life work when you're working offshore