I am not one to be filled with the spirit of Christmas (unless it comes in a bottle). If I hear a song using the lyric ‘Merry’ and punctuated with bells in November I will become physically violent…
The Season to be Jolly has always been bittersweet for me. I am profoundly sympathetic to those who struggle at this time of year and have struggled myself. It can be overwhelming, lonely and honestly, sometimes it all feels very false. Not to mention the drive to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!
Living in South East Asia for the last few years, I have been lucky enough to avoid the worst excesses of Christmas and, as a general rule, our Christmases were low key with minimal disruption to our lives, celebrating friendship and kinship. However, this year we returned to Australia. For the children it is their first Yuletide in the West. Christmas on Steroids, tinsel and lights and, seemingly, months and months of build up to the big day!
The first indication that things were going to be different this year came a couple of months ago. As I was tucking our 6 year old into bed she took my hand, squeezed it tightly, gazed deeply into my eyes with her enormous baby blues and asked earnestly, “Mummy, do you think this year we could possibly have a slightly larger Christmas tree?
I couldn’t see what was wrong with the forty-centimeter tall, 300-baht job I reluctantly purchased eight years ago, my wink and a nod to Christmas. But she was so very, very sweet and so very, very sincere.
“I will look into it, sweety!” I replied.
I was fucked and she knew it.
I locked my shiny humbug in a cage under the bed and told her to keep it down this year (though she is still being nurtured after hours with wine and cheese) bought a 6-foot-tree and decided, for the children, to have a Merry Fucking Christmas.
I fought through the cobwebs under the house and ripped open the box labeled ‘Xmas Shit’ (I better do something about that now that my children can read). As I unpacked that dusty old box something fabulous happened. I remembered what Christmas was like for me when I was a kid. I remembered the excitement, the anticipation, the rare and treasured time together as a family. Leaving a carrot for Rudolph and glass of rum out for Santa (the old pisspot), watching my Grandma as she bustled about in the kitchen, making presents for Mum and Dad, the table on Christmas Day… bright, festive fun!
I decided it was time to make some happy Christmas memories for my girls… and for me.
So we have begun. Just in case I forget later, these are a few of my favourite things from Christmas this year.
THE CHRISTMAS STAR
As mentioned, we acquired a new tree this year. It was actually really fun adorning it with the surprising number of special decorations we seem to have acquired over the years, many made by the girls. However, when it was finished, the children agreed that the daggy old plastic star was neither big enough or beautiful enough to crown such a lovely tree. So we got crafty! A cardboard box, a toilet roll, every piece of gold or silver frippery we could find in the busy box, a little imagination, a lot of glitter, a lot of glue and VIOLA….
So many memories were carefully unpacked from the Christmas Box this year. I am incredibly lucky to have travelled so widely and to have met so many fabulous people from all over the world. As Christmas orphans our families shared some fun times together and some special traditions from other countries. These adorable christmas ‘Pontipines’… as Chilli calls them… were a gift from one of my dear girlfriends from Lao. Miss ya face fabulous lady!
For the last couple of months our house has felt like The Gaza Strip and I have felt like a UN Peacekeeper trying to minimise the carnage as my two eldest have fought and scrapped and hated and hit. It has been heartbreaking to watch and G and I have struggled to find a way to improve things. On Monday, suddenly, a ceasefire!
It was the first day of the school holidays and the girls decided that Christmas wasn’t Christmas without snow. They spent the day singing and sharing and laughing and making.
Mummy, come look what we made… together…
They say families make their own traditions and despite not being particularly Christmassy G and I do have ours.
Every year, on Christmas Eve, after the children are in bed and while we wait for Santa to come, a single malt, some chocolate and this fabulous movie. One Christmas tradition I look forward to introducing my daughters to when they are much, much, much older!
Thanks for reading. I hope your Holidays are filled with Peace, Love and Fabulous.