Holiday Cheer

Yes, I know I promised to write about unicorns. I will get on to that eventually. But first I thought I’d take you on a merry journey of christmas past, present and future, just in case I turn into even more of a humbug in the future. I don’t really *love* christmas like everyone else seems to. It’s always filled with expectations that are almost never fulfilled. Christmas Past being a fairly broad term and not referring to any single event, I will list the basic traditions of our christmas celebrations.

Christmas morning as a child still held that incredibly exciting atmosphere. My sisters, A, E and B and I (I being me, not some random whose name starts with an I. Mine certainly does not.) would get up really early to find plastic santa bags at the end of our beds, filled with lollies and one of our gifts. It was no secret that our parents dumped them on our beds in the night, usually we were (or at least I was) awake enough to notice my door opening and the flashlight illuminating the room. The goodie bag would drop onto your feet with a satisfying  weight, and depending on how early it was, you’d either wait till morning or investigate it then and there. This part of the day is called ‘excited expectation’.

When everyone was up and dressed, we headed out to church and looked on enviously to all those kids who’d already opened their presents. A few hymns and and a story of Jesus later we’d be home again, waiting for Dad, usually, sitting around the laden tree gazing hopefully at those mysterious decorated parcels. At last we’d all be assembled and one of the family was nominated to be Santa. When we were younger this was almost always my Dad, but I think we all had our turn. ‘Santa’ would pass out the gifts reading out the ‘to’ and ‘from’ labels. Each new discovery was followed by cheery thank-yous and the occasional cuddle. When everything was opened we talked a bit, played with the wrapping rubbish, and Mum would disappear at some point to work on christmas lunch. This part of the day is called ‘everything is wonderful’.

While us chilluns played with our new toys and gadgets, Ma would be slaving away to produce the most awesome of stuffed chickens with roasted veggies and a hardcore gravy. And it was good. It smelt good, it looked good, and it sure as hell tasted good too. Bonbons presented us with terrible jokes, plastic crap and colourful party hats which were mandatory throughout lunch. This part of the day is called ‘bloated satisfaction’.

That marked the end of any formal celebration, and we had the afternoon to play with our new things and relax our stomachs. Even as a child, I was sad at the end of christmas dinner, because I knew everyone was then going to be too tired to play with me properly. This part of the story is called ‘christmas ends at 2:30pm’.

As far as christmases go, I guess it was fairly good. But as the years went on, more of my sisters moved away, we got older and christmas failed to deliver on that wondrous joy that it used to. Like this christmas. I’d told myself over and over that I was not going to get my hopes up. Christmas this year was just my parents and me. No more santa bags, and tripping over in the darkness. We still went to church in the morning, and opened our presents together, but being just the three of us it was a good deal shorter than traditional. Then we left the tree to go about our business while mum cooked up a feast, and when it was ready we sat and ate, read our jokes and wore our party hats. Except Dad, whose age means that he can no longer suffer to be undignified for that amount of time. Cheery conversation ensues, until it’s run dry and all we have yet to discuss is what to do for the rest of the day. This part of the day is called ‘expectation of disappointment’, and like every year for a while now, we go off to our separate rooms, and facebook is my one companion.

All was not lost though, Pa did eventually take pity on me and consent to watch a movie that night after all. Mum was super tired from the exertions of the day, and hit the sack around 7. We had our enjoyments, and it wasn’t all that bad. All it lacks is a bit of holiday cheer. I fear that the joy has gone out of christmas a little since we all grew up.

Now we take a trip to christmas future: This is what I hope. One day, I am going to have a family of my own. We’ll make our own traditions, make an effort. The kids will be full of that ‘excited expectation’ and it will rub off on everyone there, maybe even my own parents. I don’t want every christmas to be just another christmas, change is good. And I would hope that it doesn’t end up dying out by 2:30.

I said that I don’t really *love* christmas like everyone else seems to, but really, it isn’t all that bad. We have at least a loving, if potentially terminally boring family.

And to end: Unicorns, Humbug, and to all a good night!

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