When you were a child, can you remember Christmas Eve every year and going to bed trying to listen for Santa’s sleigh on the roof and wondering how on earth he was going to get in when you had no chimney? It is such a magical time of year.
I LOVE Christmas, it’s a time where I feel absolutely no guilt about spoiling my kids completely rotten. The budget is blown to pieces every year and I selfishly shop based on how much excitement I can pack into my kids little hearts on Christmas morning. Whilst the good Catholic girl in me would love to be able to say “Christmas is all about family, getting together, the birth of Christ and remembering our spirituality” the reality is, ever since I was a kid, I honestly believe that first and foremost, Christmas is all about presents. Yes pure unadulterated commercialism. It’s not about the value of the pressies but simply the excitement of opening something new and the remote possibility that Mum and Dad and perhaps even Santa may give you something you really, really want. It’s the only time of year it happens. Well in our family at least! (Birthdays are all about the party, not so much the presents, but that’s just our family).
The rest is important and yes for many, making sure you attend a religious service is part of the tradition. For most it’s a family day where older relatives are asleep on the sofa before lunch starts and Mum’s and Dad’s argue about who’s driving home and it’s the best time to work out who the most dysfunctional members of your family are. But, if I’m being perfectly honest, it will always be about the presents!
I think this excitement comes from my Mum. My Mum loves Christmas more than anyone I know. It’s her favourite time of year, her house is decked out in Christmas decorations, they’re everywhere! We’re all reminded to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and as soon as we all wake up on Christmas morning, The Anne Murray and Kenny Rodgers Christmas albums pumps out Silver Bells on repeat followed closely after that by Mariah Carey’s Christmas album. If Christmas lights were around when we were kids, she would have been the ringleader and turned our home into a Christmas wonderland. She brings our entire family together, plus any randoms who have no family in town (and there has always been a few randoms at our Christmases), lunch consists of a complete mix of seafoods, meats, salads and foods that would normally never be eaten together and completed with copious amounts of wine and discussions about the year that was. But most of all, Mum made Christmas all about the presents. Even the randoms get presents. I can’t remember a Christmas as a child where I wasn’t blown away by the number of gifts under the tree. She loved it, it was more about her seeing our happiness than anything else but it will always be a time where I remember my Mum at her happiest. This hasn’t stopped since we’ve all grown up. Each year once our kids have finished opening pressies from Santa and Mum and Dad, we drive up to Mum and Dad’s and do it all over again, she can’t help but want to spoil the kids.
It was only once I had my own kids that I realized why Christmas was so special to Mum. It was about giving, not receiving. It’s about bringing a lot of joy to a little person’s life, if only for a day. It’s a day for the kids, where the magic of Christmas and the mystery, secrecy and build up around being good all year is bought to new heights of excitement.
Whilst it shouldn’t be a stressful time of year, it always is and it causes people no end of anxiety and stress. Even though I love it, the preparation for this one day can cause a bucketload of stress. My stress tonight was mostly due to the fact that 11 days out, I’d purchased nothing. So, I was given 5 hours tonight to go to the shops and start my shopping. I couldn’t help but note my own internal monologue which, in hindsight, had a lot of Christmas anger in it. I was alone at the shops and far out, I was one angry Christmas shopper:
INTERNAL MONOGLOGUE BY AN ANGRY CHRISTMAS SHOPPER
“Bloody shops at Christmas, why can’t you ever find a park at Christmas”
“Stupid bloody people not being able to drive in carparks”
Arrived at Target and there were no trolleys “Bloody Target and no trolleys, what type of a retailer has no bloody trolleys at Christmas”
Got a trolley from Woolies downstairs “Bloody trolleys with stupid bloody wheels that don’t work at Christmas”
Saw one of the parents from school who had one of my son’s friends with them “Stupid bloody parents who take their kids late night shopping and see what’s in my trolley and are now going to announce to son what he’s getting for Christmas, and now have to change all presents”
Three things I wanted to buy were sold out “Stupid bloody shops not knowing how many products to order so that I can get my kids what they want”
Realised this was possibly the last weekend I had to buy Christmas presents “Stupid bloody Christmas for being on a weekend, who’s idea was that”
Lost count of how many pressies I had purchased for each child “Stupid bloody me for having so many kids”
Ran into another shopper with trolley “Stupid bloody woman for standing in the middle of an aisle where I need to get my trolley through”
Hubby had taken more appropriate car for packing with pressies for the day “Stupid bloody hubby for taking the car I need”
Shops closed at 9pm “Stupid bloody shops, why aren’t they open till midnight like they are in every other country in the world”
Oh it went on and on……I was like the Christmas Grinch except I put ‘stupid bloody’ in front of everything and not ‘bah humbug’.
Got home, unpacked everything and got my Christmas mojo well and truly back. Almost with a guilty conscience about the completely excessive amount of pressies that I’d purchased, I showed Mum everything I had bought and she kindly reminded me about 15 pressies that the kids wanted, she thought they needed and I hadn’t purchased.
She’s the only person in the world who would say ‘go back and get more’ and keep me in the Christmas spirit and mood . That’s why I love Mum and why I love Christmas, it’s all about the giving!
What does Christmas mean to you?