It was Christmas Eve and it was hot.
The beginning of a string of days above 40 degrees Celsius, an unrelenting heat wave. We were expecting guests.
The warmth would trap inside our 3-bedroom brick house, set on a typical quarter-acre block in suburban Melbourne. Inside, tensions were already high after a series of run-ins while organizing the party.
Our only respite was a temporary outdoor pool, ruined prematurely once the mosquitos moved in and turned it into a breeding ground.
The streets were eerily quiet but for the occasional whirring overhead of Elvis, the bushfire-fighting helicopter stationed at the nearby airport.
In a few days time the hot dry air would be tinged with the putrid stench caused by leftover Christmas lunch stewing together with garbage in the outdoor bins, overflowing in the harsh sun because rubbish collection fell on a public holiday that week.
Back inside, the Christmas tree was decorated with tinsel and baubles adorned with images of snowflakes and snowmen.
As our first guests arrived I could hear Winter Wonderland drifting in from next door.
I waved a fly away from my face. Sweat off my brow.
It was Christmas Eve.
It was hot.