Published 26 Dec 2016 Mamamia Network.
I’ve reached the age and stage at which Christmas sucks, and I’m so sad about it.
My early childhood Christmases were so lovely. The funny part is that they involved all the same people I saw all the time — my parents, siblings, grandparents, great-Aunts and Great Grandma — but somehow, the funny little rituals of the day made it beautiful.
Church first, at the dark old Baptist church that my Dad’s family belonged to. They had a female priest and different hymns to our usual Catholic Church, and lots of old powdery ladies who squeezed us close to their bosoms while squawking about how fast we were growing.
Then back my grandparents’ place, where a festive table was all set up in the “lean-to” out the back. It was a sort of room my granddad built himself out of corrugated iron, rollie smokes and Queensland sweat.
Somehow, I never remember it being hideously hot, but it must have been. I do remember the whole family retiring to the shade at the side of the house in the afternoon to eat watermelon.
My brother, sister and I were the only kids so we were spoiled rotten. It was unreal, and I was always baffled when mum said, “Thank God that’s over” in the car on the way home. (Then everyone died.)
So then I remember Christmases with my husband, when we were young and selfish and never went home to please our mothers.
When we were poor we rented videos, ate cheese toasties and traded op-shop pressies (and had lots of sex). Later, we headed off overseas and spent our Christmases in exotic locations (having lots of sex).
Well, that’s all behind me now. This year we spent Christmas at my mum’s — and we’re divorced.
It was hot as hell, the kids were up at dawn, I spent the entire morning setting up tables and mismatched chairs at my mums, while my father sent me back and forth to the fridge for salad ingredients.
Mum kept telling him he was making too much salad but he wouldn’t listen. He was a salad-making machine, and did a lot of chopping for a legally blind guy.
The actual lunch went by in a haze of chicken and prawns and begging kids to eat and sweat and booze and jumping up and down to grab things and ill-advised political discussions. Then it was time for trifle.
Then it was time to clean up. Up and down and in and out and mum trying to interest people in taking leftovers and Pop still refusing to admit he’d made too much salad.
Dishes, dishes, dishes and endless trips to the bin, kids tired and turning on each other, and adults yawning and longing for solitude.
All I could think of when my kids finally dropped off to sleep that night was, “Thank God that’s over.”
So this is Christmas. There must be a better way. We’ve tried going out to a restaurant, but in that case I end up with bored kids yanking at my arm the entire time, wanting to go home and play with their new toys.
Is there a better way? Please help me!