A few days before Christmas I couldn’t decide whether the sparkle of the festivities had begun to dim with age.
It’s not like they don’t go as hard here in Australia, it’s just different to what I’m used to and so takes a little longer to get the Christmas juices flowing.
In spite of being tight on cash when I was a child, Mum always made Christmas a massive event at our house, that included trips into London to taste the first roasted chestnuts in Oxford St and to see the Christmas lights. Here, outside of the plastic commercialism offered by the malls, I’m finding it hard to locate my Christmas spirit and when I see images online of fog and frost and the twinkling lights in London, I feel a familiar sense of yearning.
This year, I feared that the old man – more commonly referred to as Scrooge in December – would finally succeed at blowing out all the Christmas lights on my efforts. He began to torment me with his favourite song ‘Christmas is nearly over’ the day before Christmas Eve, and there were a few moments there where I almost succumbed to the pressure and joined in with a sigh of surrender.
Christmas holds few surprises these days with older kids. It’s too risky to buy them some random gift in the hope they’ll be gracious enough to pretend they like it, hence generally they know beforehand what’s under the tree so we’re not subjected to resting bitch faces over the turkey.
Even more boring is that these days I have to employ some restraint around the excesses of food and alcohol because my blooming middle-aged baby belly doesn’t possess the same recovery skills of its youth. There is some middle-aged wisdom that helps us remember that what we put in our mouths these days isn’t going anywhere else afterwards and that two portions of Christmas pud probably isn’t an option with the three to four months of bikini weather that lie ahead.
The radio helped. Smooth FM cranked out Buble and Mariah and as the first whiffs of Delia’s red cabbage wafted from the cook top, by early evening on Christmas Even I felt my Humbug stony heart begin to melt and a sense of excitement emerge as the combination of aromatic Christmas spices began to circulate the house.
Christmas morning dawned and we awoke before the kids – something I still need to get used to, although the Princess had been sniffing around the balls in her stocking for at least an hour – and I lay there for a few moments and questioned how I felt about the day now. Then in bounded Kurt, a ball of puppyish excitement, followed by NC, who snuggled into bed next to Scrooge to share a mutual look of disdain at how the brainless half of the family sucks them into this annual festivity so cruelly each year.
And in spite of the temperature, the lack of snow men and the distinct whiff of barbies being heated in readiness, Christmas had arrived.