Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!
– Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Christmas is on its way! Yay!
As I post this, there are 19 sleeps until the big day, to be precise. There are things about Christmas that I unashamedly adore! Of course there are also things about it that I loathe. Huge holiday seasons tend to being out the best and worst in human beings. When I was growing up Christmas in my household was all Bah Humbug…
My mother is a practical woman and not one really for fuss. As a teenager, I put up the Christmas tree every year even in the face of my family’s apathy. I think deep down I yearned for those sugary sweet images that I saw on American TV shows growing up – like the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family. I wanted those sort of Christmases. I wanted a huge tree, perfectly decorated, and a roasted turkey. Everyone wearing tragic sweaters, laughing and exchanging presents.
I would watch re-runs of black and white films each year – Miracle on 34th Street in particular. The 1947 Version, not the even cheesier 90’s remake. I don’t know that I particularly loved the film, but I think I wanted to believe that Christmas was a magical time and that miracles could happen.
I left home early, at 18 to be precise, having married my ridiculously young childhood sweetheart. We built a house together – the Great Australian Dream, complete with champagne coloured carpet and a black and white tiled bathroom. The first Christmas in my own home, I decided to create my own traditions. I went to a Christmas tree farm (more of a plantation really…why do they call it a farm?), and I chose the most beautiful tree in the world – tall, full and just perfect. Okay, so my excitement overruled any sense of height or depth perception!
When they delivered the tree, it was far too tall to fit in the house and its brilliant branches took up half of the small lounge room. The Leo managed to cut the tree so that we could get it in the house and it smelt amazing – there is nothing like the smell of fresh pine in your home. (I do confess these days I have a fake tree but it looks deliciously real and although sadly lacking the smell of Christmas, it’s perfectly shaped and far more convenient to pack away each New Year!).
I painstakingly searched for the right decorations and really got into the Christmas spirit. I held a Christmas party for friends at my home and I loved it. Great conversation, food and wine with close friends – just brilliant!
I like the gift giving and the ceremony of Christmas. It can be stressful – there is no doubt about it – and financially crazy, but I do like to find presents that mean something to people. Once I had children, my Christmas obsessions kicked into over drive. I guess I wanted to give them all the joy of Christmas that I lacked as a kid.
They get excited decorating the tree each year (though I do have pangs of guilt that our tree is a strictly tinsel free zone. I can’t help it – shoot me, but I just can’t warm to tinsel). I like buying gifts – I can spend hours in front of the computer trying to track down the right thing – but I honestly don’t love the shopping centre, department store chaos. I try to start early, so I never have to be standing in a department store on Christmas Eve freaking out.
I actually like hearing Christmas carols in stores though. It makes me smile a little. I’m a sap I know, but I just love the feeling of Christmas. The spirit of it really. Yes, there are presents given and received, but it’s so not about that for me. It’s about catching up with great friends and honestly hanging out with people you really love.
On the lead up to Christmas I watch Christmas movies being aired– The Grinch is a favourite, with Jim Carey and of course, I can’t go past Love Actually. I swear, I watch it every year (can you believe it’s been 10 years since its release?!) and I still laugh and cry (although I so think it’s creepy that the newly married girl kisses her husband’s best friend after he’s been stalking her….but maybe that’s just me?).
I like cooking Christmas lunch – pork, or lamb, and chicken – sometimes all three. Sometimes I even do the ritualistic turkey though the kids are not huge fans of the festive bird. I like baking vegetables with lemon and rosemary and serving hot gravy…even when the temperature is unbearably hot. It just feels like Christmas to have a roast and bowls of apple sauce, cranberry sauce and crunchy bread. I like Christmas napkins and, as lame as it seems, I even have a dinner set with Christmas motifs, always used for breakfast which traditionally for us is blueberry pancakes and syrup.
Lunch is always served on the gorgeous ivory Noritake dinner set, rimmed in gold. It’s usually the only time it gets an airing. It is so not dishwasher safe, but I don’t care – it forms part of lovely traditions I guess I’ve created for my kids.
Then we play musical trivia – someone flicks through songs on their I-pod while the rest of us scramble to write down the song and the artist. It’s silly, sure, but we laugh and chide each other, it’s just a fun thing I’ve been doing with the kids since they were little. I call it Rock 101…these days it’s a miracle if I win! They are just too good at it.
Usually my eldest boys play guitar at some point during the day and I relax and enjoy the melodies in my home while sipping champagne or wine. Nice.
So this year, Christmas will be a little different! For the first time I won’t be with my kids on Christmas day. They will be with their dad this year and celebrating with their extended family. I agonized over it a little. When I think about it, my heart constricts a little. It’s a strange concept to wrap around my parental mind…Christmas day without my kids. I’m not sure anything can prepare me for it really.
Having been separated for three years, I’ve been lucky really that this is the first time. Like all ‘firsts’, it will no doubt initially be a little tough. For quite a while I did my best ostrich impersonation, burying my head in the sand pit of denial. I just didn’t want to think about not spending the day with them. To do so was upsetting.
I was in grave danger of becoming Grinch like! I contemplated for the first time not putting up the Christmas tree…ye gads!
I have to say that my inner child thinks Christmas is still kind of big deal. I could say it’s just another day but that’s not really true for me. It’s not just any other day – it’s bloody Christmas. I’m not religious so for me the weight of the day centres on tradition and a sense of family rather than any link to cute, cherubic baby Jesus. I completely understand the Christian doctrine, and as my children are Catholic, so of course I respect their beliefs.
In the end logic and optimism won out. The kids put up the Christmas tree and delighted in decorating it with baubles and doves and pretty crystal ornaments. I started Christmas shopping for the gorgeous ones and I felt better for it.
I still plan to drink eggnog with the kids on Christmas Eve before they head off with their dad, and I’ll still be having a festive lunch with them – only this year it will be on Boxing Day, complete with roast, presents and all. No doubt they will still whip my ass at music trivia and I’ll get to put my feet up with a nice glass of bubbles.
I would never be alone on the big day of course. I have brilliant and amazing friends who would have given me a seat at their Christmas table (thank you Bella) and for that I am so incredibly grateful. That in itself was beautiful and comforting.
This year though in the midst of my dread about the first Christmas sans children, a bit of a Christmas miracle happened to me. The Producer invited me to spend Christmas with him…and his family. Yes, really.
I didn’t answer him straight away because…well, I was crying. I was happy and overwhelmed and surprised. It was such an unexpected offer and I am more than a little thrilled to be spending the day with my man.
Actually this will be the second year that I have seen him on Christmas day! Last year we actually spent Christmas night together after the kids went to their dad’s, and the Producer had spent the day with his family. We were lovers and friends and it was a lovely night…as I’ve said before, we’ve had a bit of a journey!
So this year we will wake up on Christmas morning together for the very first time! It’s going to be different but I’m excited about different and new. I’m a little nervous about meeting his family of course, but it’s lovely that I will be sharing in their traditions what ever they may be. What’s really lovely is being invited a little more into his world.
So on the lead up to spending Christmas Eve with my guy though, I’m thinking red lingerie and mistletoe might be in order. Last year on Christmas night the Producer and I laughed a lot and there was absolutely some hot sex going on.
That’s sounding like a mighty fine tradition to continue! This little Santa’s helper can’t wait!