That's Chistmas to Me! Natalie Neubauer

Natalie Yvette Neubauer
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Describe what ministry looks like in your life right now?
Currently I am helping with a school called the School of Music in Missions School.  I’m helping with the pastoral care side of things as well as getting them ready for outreach.  Every Thursday we play music in the city and talk and pray with people, and every Saturday we host an open mic night for anyone we’ve met.  I also have been involved with our skate team with our youth program, Youth Street. 

I applied for citizenship to Australia two weeks ago, and when I get it, it’s going to open up some doors for study. I’m looking into pursuing some counseling ministry in our mission.

What does Christmas look like in your house?
I live in a house that at any given point has at least 80 people living in it. This Christmas it will be around the 160 mark.  Though I’ve lived in Australia for ten years, I still can’t get used to our hot Christmas’s.  I like them-it just feels more like Fourth of July then Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, everything shuts down and we have a BBQ in the backyard.  Christmas morning everyone (all 160 of us!) attend the church next door.  We come back to the house and eat brunch and open our Secret Santa gifts (handed out by Santa).  For the afternoon everyone is either helping with making the meal, watching movies, hanging out with friends, or playing on the giant slip and slide in the back yard.  In the evening, we all gather in a big space and have a great meal and then a talent show. It’s usually two hours of some amazing talent, and some ridiculous displays by your friends. 

The 26th of December is my favorite part of Christmas in Australia, which is a British holiday called ‘Boxing Day’.  Everything is still closed, and in Australia, everyone heads to the beach.  We have a late start, go to the beach, eat lunch there, and finish up the holiday season. It’s nothing like the intimate, cold Christmas I grew up with.  It’s Christmas with friends which is a different thing but I’m used to it now.

What is one of your favorite ways to prepare to celebrate Christmas?
I really like getting people gifts and decorating.  A few years ago I got a bit blown away by how Jesus lets us celebrate his birth by gathering with people we love, eating really good food, and being generous to each other.  He’s amazing.

Your favorite Christmas tradition individually or as a family?
My favorite tradition is that my housemates and me usually buy gifts for the ‘guys’ flat down the road. We’ve all been friends for 6+ years and we get together and eat food and open gifts from each and from our families. It’s almost as good being with family. I think this year I’m going to gather and do gifts with a family I’m good friends with that have two little kids.

A meaningful or fun way to prepare for Christmas:  I think it’s important to take the time to decorate. My dad modeled that to me of how much it makes an impact to take time decorating and making the season special.