I do love a good festive occasion. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I love a spot of carol singing too – I know I’ve mentioned that. I love writing Christmas cards to people I never see with promises to catch up in the new year. I hand write every card, each with an individual sentiment tailored to the recipient. I seal each envelope with a Christmas-themed sticker. These things thrill me.
I am fully aware of how this is reading to you right now. I know the picture you’re forming. But I can’t help myself. The thing about this kind of dedication to the festive spirit is that two kids leave you with fuck all time. One can’t be embracing the writing of cards with such enthusiasm when there are little mouths just begging to be fed and little bums in dire need of a bath.
So maybe, this year, some of the individually tailored sentiments were actually the same but written in a different sequence. Note to family and friends; don’t compare cards. It’s rude.
One year, I sent my Christmas cards out on NOVEMBER 18th. And then I tapped my foot impatiently at the letterbox each day for the next month waiting for my reciprocal piece of holiday cheer. I was quietly shocked that some cards arrived on the 24th of December. Some people liked to live on the edge, I thought. And some people don’t realise that their card will only be on display for a week at best before it’s relegated to the recycling bin. Craziness, I thought.
This year, my cards didn’t make it out by November 18th. Some didn’t make it out by December 18th. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The actual celebration of Christmas Day is equally thrilling for me. This year, we celebrated as the Family M-G. Not another soul did we see that day. Well, no, that’s not true, I saw the guy at the bottle shop when I went for a beer run. But apart from him, it was just we four. Both children deemed it necessary to start the festivities at 5am on Christmas morning. I did not feel terribly merry. And bright? No. Not so much. But Christmas through a child’s eyes is contagious and so as we followed LD up the stairs to check if Santa had been, the fog of exhaustion slowly lifted.
A blur of gift opening followed. This year was the first that LD really hooked into the idea of Santa. He was pretty stoked with the first three gifts he opened and was happily playing with them but there were so many more still waiting in his stocking and B and I impatiently urged him to keep unwrapping. Unfortunately, what this did was make the opening of the gifts the highlight rather than the gift itself.
By 10am, LD had run out of gifts to open (staggered throughout the morning – he did not have five solid hours worth of gifts to unwrap) but by then, it was too late and the monster had been created. The present frenzy was suddenly at an end and LD was now a junkie looking for his next festive foil-wrapped hit. Ironically, he returned to two of those first three gifts and played with them all day long. A pair of blow up Buzz Lightyear wings and a wrist ‘laser’ also from the Buzz franchise. Total cost: less than thirty bucks. Next year, when I spend just thirty bucks on Christmas presents, he’ll piss and moan about the distinct lack of gifts to open. And their cheapness.
Zee, in typical baby fashion, delighted in the wrapping paper and just generally being in on the action of his older brother’s present-opening rampage.
Late morning, preparing the roast turkey lunch, I spoke to myself quietly.
“What was that?” asked B. “Hmmm?” I replied, vaguely.
It wouldn’t have been in keeping with the holiday cheer to admit that what I actually said was, “I can’t be bothered.”
Later, as I set the Christmas feast on the table, it occurred to me that there was nothing in the lunch that LD would eat. Turkey, roast potatoes and pumpkin, green beans and peas, gravy. Nope. Mr. Fussy would deem none of that to his liking. This is the child who once licked chocolate and declared it, “Not tasty” so I can’t really say I wasn’t warned.
Out of his mind with fatigue and probably starving hungry, LD began to whine about wanting someone to pop the Christmas cracker with him. We told him no, he had to wait until we were all ready and seated at the table. So he just popped it himself.
After (watching everyone else eat) lunch, we put something Christmassy on television and LD promptly fell asleep sitting up. Of course, we took photos and made fun of him. It was great.
Finally putting the sleep-resisting Zee down for a nap, I was ready to assume the position. The foetal position, that is.
What is it about Christmas Day that kicks the fuck out of you?
I’m glad I have a full year to recover. And for Christmas 2011, I think I’ll simplify wherever possible. Fewer gifts, maybe a serious cull of the Christmas card list.
But I do have the most darling idea for the place settings………