December 25th – one of those days that sneaks up on you and makes you announce to anyone who will care “Christmas, already? Where has the year gone?” It’s a time to foster greed in children, and gluttony in adults. A time to get together with your family, or wish that you were….. Or in some cases, not.
I remember as a kid, bouncing off the walls with excitement over the prospect of THAT day. The build-up would include Dad cutting down a pine tree that looked about as perky as a 15 year old Emo on a family trip to the rock museum. After we’d got the old offal bucket from the shed, I’d project manage my younger brother on where to put his stash of decorations, and secretly re-arrange them later. The tree ended up looking like a cougar in a mid-life crisis – too many adornments and gaps in the wrong places.
We’d stick the leftover baubles that didn’t make the cut to the ceiling. They’d hang like Santa’s Christmas-themed snot. The tape would later be dotted with black, as our ceiling became a man-made Venus fly trap. Dead flies stuck to their doom, for months to come.
Mum hated the new addition to the living room. Too many pine needles to vacuum up.
On Christmas Eve, the Santa location report would come up at the end of the 6 o’clock news. Commercialism at its best.
We were shipped off to bed early with the assurance from Dad that Christmas would come quicker if we did. He also said that Santa really liked beer. What a great role model Santa was for impressionable young minds. I’m not sure what’s worse, drinking on the job or drinking and flying? Mum would then furiously wrap our presents and stuff our stockings.
One year, I swore that I saw a Santa. A ghost like figure floating passed the tree. It was enough to keep my belief in the jolly god-like man, for a few years to come.
The next morning THAT day had finally arrived. It was coupled with the incredibly early wake-up call by jumping into Mum and Dad’s king-sized bed, with stockings and Nana in tow. I can imagine parents the world over cringing at the prospect of this. Did Santa intravenously pump us with caffeine while we slept?
Tearing open the abundance of presents from under the tree was a completely different affair. We had to have breakfast and get dressed first. I never ate my Weetbix so fast. We would sit on the couch waiting like squirrels ready to collect their pre-hibernation nuts. Dad would take soooooo loooooong to get ready. Then each gift was opened one at a time, including standard admiration time. The whole prize-giving ceremony lasted at least an hour.
The festivities continued with the day consisting of eating, Nana spitting cherry stones at unsuspecting victims, eating, sharing the God-awful jokes from the pulled crackers (seriously, who writes these?), eating, Dad pouring way too much brandy over Christmas pud, eating, spoons hanging off noses, forced thank yous, eating, checking my stocking again just in case, and eating.
The next day, dad had gout, mum had 101 uses for ham, and my sister lucked out on her given birth date. Everyone seemed too tired, bloated, and lax to really celebrate.
I loved those Christmases, the memories and quirky family traditions. As you get older, the need for presents is superceded by the love of rum balls and hanging out with your nearest and dearest. This year, I want things that I can’t have. So instead, I will take the time to reflect, make future plans, and look forward to rockin’ New Year’s Eve.