I had lunch with some beautiful-in-every-way girlfriends last week. This close to Christmas, naturally, the conversation headed towards the big day and we shared our plans. I won’t say the banter became heated but we certainly fired up when talking about families and what we predicted might happen amongst them. Where, if you believe in the true meaning of Christmas, it was a time of celebration, frankincense and myrrh, we now believe it to be a celebration of simply getting through the day. Sad but often true. Here’s what I/we’d really like for Christmas….
1- Someone to come in to put my tree up.
When the triplets and their brother were little, the pageant signified the time to put up the tree. It was fun. You’d share the experience.
You’d cope with the redbacks in the tree box, the disintegrating decorations from ELC and lower school years and the fact that the children put ALL the decorations on the lower branches. No wonder mummy swilled wine during the process!
When I put up my tree last week, I asked my son if he’d like to share the experience. We could bond through ornament placement, laugh and widen our eyes as the lights got turned on.
He couldn’t hear me. He had headphones on and was playing Fortnite.
I took this as a sign. I think from now the redbacks can HAVE their spiderweb mansions in that box all year round. Or, I’ll take any volunteers who’d like to come and erect the tree for me.
I’ll share my wine with you.
Never before have I appreciated the time saved through buying vouchers as gifts.
Although I LOVE the look of a beautifully wrapped present with a little sparkle, colour coordination and handwritten tag, on many families this effort is simply lost.
I have become like my nanna or that estranged great aunty you had as you grew up who’d send a card with a five dollar note in it. Albeit these days you have to slap at least 50 bucks in that card before it seems valued.
So, I meet somewhere in the middle with a voucher to some game or sports shop they love. At least this way, if the kids forget about it, I’m off to Rebel to use it before expiration. Score!
Vouchers also eliminate the need to wrap and listen to distant forests screaming as paper gets shredded and tossed off in the unwrapping process.
3- No fighting at home.
During lunch with my girlfriends, a large part of the conversation was taken up with discussing family dynamics.
For 364 days of the year, families cope with each other- enough anyway. If they don’t cope, they don’t have to see each other.
When it comes to Christmas day, they all come together and the family rites seem to have a seizure. Seriously.
Whether it’s in-laws (this is where many use the ‘outlaws’ joke), immediate, surrogate or step families, stress levels escalate along with the manipulation, the gossiping, the irrational judgement and the gift value discrepancies.
I’m not necessarily talking about my own family (or MAYBE I am? you’ll never know 😉 but I’ve heard of mothers in law gifting to some grand children and not others, expecting the day as SHE wants it, and avoiding meal times so SHE doesn’t have to prepare anything.
I’ve heard of ex spouses disrupting schedules out of spite and of fathers or fathers in law getting on the grog before lunch and abusing his loved ones by dessert time. Manners seem to fly away with Rudolph .
Of course it all starts nicely with the obligatory hug and kiss with a Christmas wish but it’s often just snowballing downhill on a hot day after that. Why do we put ourselves through it? Why don’t we keep things simple?
I can still remember the ad on TV and the boy on Father Christmas’ lap. “No fighting at home….”
4- Each to their own.
Every Christmas gathering has one. At least SOMEONE gets their nose out of joint from interacting with one and vows are made to never let that ONE do that again. Who, you say?
The tradition tyrant.
The one who tries to enforce THEIR traditions on to the whole, increasingly inebriated flock.
Heaven forbid the presents get opened at the wrong time, we forget to make the brandy snaps (in the heat of Summer) or we omit to watch the patriarch of the family run the show and present the largest and most valuable gift so as to smooth over any conflict endured throughout the other 364 days of the year.
Blessed are the meek AND those who follow traditions.
No matter how outdated, daft or completely ludicrous they are. Tradition tyrants may try to enforce a present opening routine, a meal spec you don’t like nor believe in or for everyone to remember the ‘real’ reason for Christmas.
While I grew up quite religious, my mind has been changed and now one of my triplets says her religion is ‘the Crows’ football team so clearly Jesus’ birthday doesn’t really come in to play in our home.
I do believe we can bend a little to either keep the peace or bring happiness to someone special but when it is a rite forced upon us by a tyrannical egomaniac, stand tall, skoll that liquor and I’ll meet you in Valhalla!
5- Presence over presents
My lunch with the beautiful-in-every-way girls conjured up much thought about presents.
First you have to look at decorations NEXT to the Halloween gear in the shops, then you have nearly three months of ‘Christmas inspired’ materialism thrust in your face.
This is swiftly followed by hot cross buns available on Boxing Day. Spend much??
Some of my friends’ families discussed gift ideas from October and one gets (very specific) Christmas lists sent around in September ! Really?
No wonder the pent up altruistic emotions explode during the liquor infused Christmas lunch or dinner or dinner number two with the next branch of family.
I feel that I give enough to my family throughout the year. Movies, clothes, school stationery, Boost Juices on the fly and fifty billion phone covers all add up!
I’d rather not give gifts for the sake of giving.
I’d much prefer a barbie with part of the family at a time, sincere, audible conversation and a few bevvies over a game of darts. THAT’S memorable. THAT’S how to celebrate family and togetherness.
So in the end, my girlfriends and I had a few bubbles, lots of laughs, great conversation. In the process we swapped existing Christmas day expectations to dreams of simple, realistic togetherness full of bubbles, a tradition here and there and family. The ones we like anyway 😉
PS-If you would like to subscribe to my blog, please do. It’s free. Bring a friend and I’ll send you a hot cross bun on Boxing Day !