What, you may wonder, do a couple Americans do on Christmas Day when they’re half way around the world from home?
We are lucky enough to have lots of friends here in the Barossa Valley and several of them invited us over to their homes. We flipped a coin and ended up spending the day in Adelaide at the beautiful home of Andrew and Toni Rutter. He’s the son of our neighbors John and Margaret Rutter.
What an interesting, friendly bunch of people. Over achievers, one and all.
Of course, you already know about John and Margaret, the doctors who live up the street from us.
A few other’s who were there:
John’s brother, David, spent a career as an Aussie diplomat posted in places like Singapore, Sri Lanka, France, and finally, San Francisco, where he was the Consul General.
Andrew, John and Margaret’s son and our host, runs IBM finance in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He shares his father’s dry sense of humor and even his facial expressions.
Toni, Andrew’s wife, is a former IBMer who later went into event planning. She’s a joy to be with and, as you would expect from an event planner, pulled off Christmas dinner without a hitch.
Angus, Andrew and Toni’s son, just finished medical school and has taken a year off to do research. His subject? Dwarf hermaphroditism. He’s a pretty funny guy and with a straight face said, “I’m the world’s leading expert.” Then he pointed out that it’s relatively easy to be the world’s leading expert in a condition that has only afflicted about 70 people in recorded history.
Ellie, Andrew and Toni’s daughter, will graduate from Macquarie University in June and is going to be a school teacher. She’s a great kid, but do not be fooled. John assures me that this attractive young woman is a card shark who will take your every last penny should you be foolish enough to sit in on a poker game in which she is a participant.
I sat next to David’s wife Wendy, who told me, “You can play with my yo-yo any time you want.” No, I won’t explain what that meant and you can read into it anything you wish.
John and David’s sister Lisbeth sat to my left. She admitted that she can’t tell a joke and then proved it by telling this joke: “Why was the Egyptian confused? Because his father was a dummy…(long pause and complete silence from everyone around the table)…I mean a mummy. His father was a mummy.” Apparently Lisbeth really can tell a joke because she got the biggest laugh of the day.
I don’t mean to shortchange David’s daughters Debbie and Megan, but I didn’t get to spend much time with them. But I can tell you that Debbie is following in her father’s footsteps and is about to begin a new stint in Australia’s Beijing embassy. And sister Megan works in finance and came in all the way from Queensland’s Gold Coast. (I think she won the award for having travelled the farthest.)
Christmas dinner was delicious and entire Rutter clan warm, welcoming, and wonderful and made us feel like part of the family.
We miss our friends and family back in the United States, but we had a great Christmas nonetheless.