I’m not really that into Christmas. At least not all of it. I love having a drive around and looking at Christmas lights and I love the chance to catch up with friends and family and drink champagne. The presents aren’t bad either. But I don’t love the ordeal that is Christmas. I could claim that I’m all anti-consumerism (which I’d love to be, but, to be fair, advertising works a treat on me and I regularly see things I MUST have) or that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of baby Jesus – and perhaps there is some truth to that given it’s traditionally a Christian celebration, but actually, I’m just lazy. I haven’t got a Christmas tree. I usually do my shopping online and have it sent to mum and dad’s and mum wraps the presents with the love, care and attention to detail that I lack. I haven’t bought the boys novelty Christmas outfits and we haven’t even attempted to have a santa photo this year, but I’ll gelt to that bit in a minute.
We always come home to Yarrawonga for Christmas and it doesn’t really feel like the season to be jolly until we get here. More specially, not until the 23rd of December which just so happens to be my Aunty Shirl’s birthday. Despite the fact that it is her birthday, she puts on the greatest spread for afternoon tea and makes a cup of tea very nearly as perfect as my nan did. Although her Mars Bar and jelly slices cannot be faulted, sandwiches are her real forte and I can guarantee that you have never tasted a sandwich as amazing as hers. Tiny triangles in all manner of flavours, the freshest bread, perfection – you’ve not tasted a real sandwich unless you’ve had one. Once we’ve eaten and drunk our fill, we leave. Who’d have a bloody birthday, hey?!
But I digress. It really started feeling like Christmas last week at playgroup. We had a Christmas party complete with a Santa and books disguised as presents that we parents had bought in the cover of darkness, wrapped in secret and steathily stashed in Santa’s sack in the kitchen on the day. Paddy and Bede love the idea of Santa. They recognise his get up in pictures, on TV and in the supermarket. They happily say ‘Santa’ and look pretty pleased with themselves. I thought they’d be fine with the big red fella. Boy, was I wrong.
As soon as Saint Nick, waltzed through the door, Paddy started screaming. Not just crying, screaming. And it got worse from here. Bede joined in. While the other kids hustled to the front for prime position, we sat down at the back of the room and I tried to whoosh them and explain that they might even get a present and suggested that would be pretty exciting. Didn’t work. They were both trying to crawl inside my skin and I couldn’t move. They were holding on for dear life and any movement on my part was futile. Shane’s worst fears were realised when Santa didn’t know how to pronounce Bede’s name. I think he was somewhat hampered by the beard and hair flapping in his face rather than the name itself. In any case, there was no way Bede was going to get his present so thank goodness someone brought it back for us. Same deal with Paddy. I attempted to get more comfortable and did a plug in my brand new Haviannas. Summer ruined. At last, the present giving time was over and someone suggested that we sing a Christmas carol to send Santa on his way. I’m pretty sure I’m the mother of at least one, if not two grinches, because they aren’t into carols either. I don’t think the song was even finished before Santa made his quick exit to a chorus of ‘we wish you a merry Christmas’ and screaming of the Schwarz Boys. I made the executive decision then and there that we wouldn’t bother pursuing the cliche Santa photo this year.
I took Paddy outside and talked him into playing with the kitchen which seemed to work. For a brief period of time until Bede careened around the corner with one shoe on (the other was broken and had fallen off) and smashed his head on the hand rail and promptly fired up for another round of screaming. Paddy went out in sympathy. I bundled them both up, wished people a Merry Christmas (although I’m not sure if they could hear me) and made a slow and loud exit. Once Paddy was safely back in the car and in familiar territory he summed up the morning perfectly with ‘oh dear’ and then fell asleep. Oh dear indeed.
So next year I might make more of an effort, you know, get a tree, think about gifts before the week of Christmas, do some Santa familiarisation. I’ve already started – we got a Wiggles Christmas CD the other day…and we’ll probably be listening to it until June.
**The cover photo is actually us on Puffing Billy. But we did it in December and it’s the kind of photo one would make a card out of and send to loved ones at Christmas. If one was that organised.