Prioritizing Your Fucks This Christmas


Don’t get me wrong, I BLOODY LOVE CHRISTMAS, but there are certain seasonal chores necessary for its success that have lost their appeal over time.

I give you:


Making your own mince pies, pudding, gravy, stuffing or bread sauce

Cooking a whole turkey, as opposed to a super-processed crown from the supermarket where the birds are actually trained to make their own stuffing

Leaving fake snowy footprints, wine or carrots in the hallway

and gift-wrapping,


The standard of my gift-wrapping, above all, has slipped dramatically over the years – a drop in standards that I believe correlates directly to the fucks I now give in middle age.


In the old days – when I cared – I used to take a massive, misplaced pride in making sure that my wrapping was better than anyone else’s color-themed to the tree with matching ribbons, bows and yes, sometimes even foliage, and I took my time over the process. I saw each gift as a symbol of my creativity and thoughtfulness. I cut the paper straight and carefully with our best scissors, and my joins were seamless. I didn’t buy gifts that couldn’t be wrapped perfectly and I was so proud of what I achieved, I grieved as my family carelessly undid my work on Christmas day, with scant regard for my mental health.


One year I even made cinnamon and fig cookie gift tags with an infusion of mulled wine…had you there!


This year, I bought Target wrapping paper, post office string and one hundred-for-one, stick-on gift tags, in part as a cost-saving exercise and in part because I’ve prioritized my fucks this year. And although the cost-saving element was the old man’s my decision, I have found the transition trickier than I thought. Put it this way – it is difficult not to wash my hands each time I handle the Target paper. It doesn’t smell like David Jones paper, nor does it have its thick, dependable texture. It is thin and creases in the wrong places, and it makes no allowances for sticky tape mistakes, leaving white I’m cheap marks as evidence.


My gifts still look colorful and festive in an I’m poor, fun kind of way, and have still been wrapped with love, but they’ve lost their Mr Bean in Love Actually element of pretentiousness. They look like they’ve traveled the world and run out of money for food halfway around. Their corners are loose and flabby and bits of the gift poke through the cracks where the joints don’t quite meet, or where the cheap paper hasn’t withstood sharp corners – rather like my body in a bikini at the moment, if you can bring yourself to conjure up such an image so close to Christmas lunch. I’m also embarrassed to admit that some of the gifts have been patched because I’ve run out of one paper and done an emergency graft with a mismatched donor paper – and it hasn’t quite taken.


However, the pain will be more bearable this year as I watch Kurt shred his wrapping, and we will have more money to put to a charitable cause, such as wine.

What Do You Do When Your Daughter Rejects The Most Sacrosanct Of Family Christmas Traditions?

There has been a rollercoaster of changes in our house recently, all of which are interfering with the slow and steady build up to Christmas and my preparations that I pride myself on each year. That’s the thing about this stage of parenting – one minute you’re stumbling along in a fug of wet-towel-on-the-floor acceptance, and the next thing you know, their entitled asses are off without as much as a wave goodbye.  


Meet “Sacrifice”


Friends of ours recently arrived home from a long trip overseas to discover that their youngest had left the nest while they were away and I could tell by the emptiness in my friend’s eyes that she is still adjusting to the echoes in the house.


And just before Christmas. Very cruel.


At least NC has given us some time to acclimatize to the news that she is leaving us to manage her brother by ourselves for pastures new, but this bold new independence has empowered her in other ways as well. She now believes she can call the shots in terms of change in other long-held bastions of family tradition as well – and as you know, change is something neither my husband nor my son does well.


This Christmas, she has dared to request that instead of the cheap tat that Santa normally delivers to her Christmas stocking, that she has fewer, more useful gifts than the one-dollar bath bombs, multi packs of hairbands and five-for-one knickers with the days of the week emblazoned on the front of them, from Target.


Now, it’s one thing to get my head around her leaving us alone with her brother just before Christmas –  but quite another when she decides to alter Santa’s responsibilities. As it is, I’ve had to accept that my mince pie is now vegan and veggie sausages have been added to the food mountain list for the past two Christmas’. Before I know it, she’ll be demanding sustainable gifts, or worse, suggest donating my personal gift budget to some donkey or goat in Africa – an act of questionable generosity that a friend of mine swears she does each year in place of our Christmas cards.


I like to think I am progressive and I certainly believe in change for the better, but you don’t mess with Christmas and customs that (albeit, may have scant regard for the religious connotations of the festival), yet continue to remain sacrosanct to our traditional family values.


There is a joy to tradition. It’s like having a holiday home and knowing that your own wine glass is there waiting for you each time you go. In the same way that there were certain things you could count on as a child – you would be eating your lunch for dinner if you didn’t finish it, there was absolutely no leeway for negotiation over bedtimes, you had to have one bath once a week, and there was always that comforting certainty of a giant tube of Smarties, an orange and a net of stale chocolate coins in your Christmas stocking.


I know that other families’ approach the gift-thing in different ways, but in our house, the stocking has always come from Santa and the more expensive gifts come from family, are wrapped and placed under the tree. As marketed by the retailers who import the tat from Asia, what Santa puts in stockings are “fillers”, and as such, not gifts that really serve a purpose. It is the crap that sits in your room once all the chocolate has gone, until the realization that it is useless tat sinks in – usually somewhere around New year. It is first-world materialism, and nothing to be proud of, so perhaps NC has a point and I should stop supporting child labor, play Hare Krishna instead of Buble as I dress the tree this year, and name my donkey “sacrifice.”

Romance Comes In Different Forms

English: Romance icon
English: Romance icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was our wedding anniversary on Friday and inevitably, after twenty-plus long years together, the standard of the old man’s gifts and romantic gestures have diminished with time.

In the first few years of our marriage, I might be treated to dinner, flowers AND a card, perhaps even a meal cooked by him; these days it’s a card if I’m lucky.

Fortunately, I’m not a sentimentalist and I didn’t marry the old man for his romantic gestures. And to be honest, I’d grown a tad tired of the sad-looking, funereal bunches of white lilies that I told him I liked, ONCE, circa 1990, and which he has bought me ever since.

So this year I decided to fess up.

Roses are Red
Roses are Red (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because, as the healthy glow of my once youthful skin fades to a dull middle-aged pallor, I find that I like more color in my life these days,  so for the past year or so, brightly-colored roses have held far more appeal. They also happen to accessorize very pleasingly with the more funky design scheme in our apartment which I based around a piece of Aboriginal art I found on Ebay, and which kills my OCD a little bit more each day because the people who stretched and strung the canvas, did it the wrong way.

That fucking artwork taunts me on a daily basis.

Which is why, rather than be disappointed by last week’s withered lilies from the local petrol station, I decided to take control, buy my own bouquet and then get the old man to come up with the dosh.

Perhaps that sounds as though I’ve given up or given in, but considering I don’t buy anything for him in return for our anniversary and I preach ‘equality’ to the kids, I don’t have a problem with it. It seemed like the obvious solution. Romance comes in different forms and the old man’s talent in that department does not lie in gifting.

When I went to the florist to pick my flowers and explained the situation to her, it was quite obvious that she was appalled. She asked me if the old man had ever been romantic and it only took me a few seconds to respond with an unequivocal ‘no’. ‘Oh’, she responded with appropriate sad face, unable to disguise the traces of pity in her voice – at which point I hoped that she might throw in the extra greenery I’d requested without charging the exorbitant $5 for what was effectively a couple of manky old leaves.

‘But it’s not all bad,’ I responded, rearing in defence of my soul-mate of twenty-two years. ‘He still makes me laugh, and he’s a great cuddler.’

‘Then you’re got yourself a good man,’ she said, wisely, and I realized she was right and skipped out of the shop, hugging my new, favourite flowers and for a few precious seconds I might even have walked on air.

Is Giving To Family Really Better Than Receiving At Christmas?

There’s a serious issue threatening to wreak havoc on the Midlife Mayhem Christmas this year.

Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Pa...
Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



It could turn into one of those horrible, familial diplomatic crises, on a par with Abbott’s opening speech at the G20 Summit last week.




You see – I take Christmas seriously. NO-ONE messes with my Christmas.




But, unfortunately, it has already come to the attention of Scrooge (the old man) that the family numbers are increasing on par with the Chinese population crisis in our family, because younger members of our extended family insist on procreating like rabbits and providing even more little bundles of joy that require presents at Christmas.




And did I mention that most of the rabbits come from my side of the family?




Scrooge is not happy. He hates Christmas anyway, and has already begun to worry about festive issues, such as where we can possibly sit our over-sized Christmas Tree in our Borrower-sized apartment, (he even tried the ‘do we really need one this year…’ approach at one ridiculous point in his thought processes), can we afford Christmas Drinks, and how much is my Christmas outfit going to really cost.








Embed from Getty Images

Yes, my darling, our apartment is going to take on the look of Santa’s Grotto in Hamleys this year. If only he appreciated just how creative I can get with such a small space to dress and a ton of tacky Christmas decorations from the $2 emporium. I’m already thinking life-sized reindeer, artificial snow, stockings suspended from every light fitting and setting the balcony alight like a trashy trailer park Christmas Tree to really fuck off our stuck-up neighbours in The Block.




But he does have a point. Christmas is getting seriously expensivo and threatening other ‘luxuries’ on the family spreadsheet – like ‘health’, ‘the vet’ and ‘exfoliation.’




All these sprouting nieces and nephews can get expensive, especially now I have no real reason to go crazy in baby shops, and tend to get a bit carried away at the sight of booties and tiny, glitzy tutus.




But, here’s the real problem – if we cut the adult presents, I won’t get pressies from my siblings either! This means I could end up with guilt-cash from the old man, a ketchup gun from Kurt and some very expensive beauty product NC has had her eye on for sometime, (for her), on Christmas morning.




I can visualise the tantrum already.




Look, I know it’s shallow and selfish and extremely un-philanthropic, (sorry, Bill!), but I like opening presents, and my chances of getting something I actually like will be sorely limited if left to the choices of my immediate family, who obviously don’t know me at all.




Whereas my besties and my sisters have a chance of getting it right.




They know never to buy me clothes, won’t buy me a set of blue towels when I ask for white, size 18 French Knickers or an electric carving knife.




I’m not really a bad person, and love ‘giving’ too. In fact I almost like giving as much as receiving.








What can I say? I had a tough childhood…