Christmas celebrations, for this little family, kick off every year on December 24th, commonly referred to as Christmas Eve. It commences with the traditional Dinner & Where Are My Presents with a very close friend of mine, and her dear husband (also a good friend of mine) and officially Family Friends.
We swap houses each year, which is always fun. My house is chaos and crazy with shit everywhere, that I’m sure freaks her out, and she has to use the same bathroom that my kids use, which freaks everyone out. Her house is immaculate and gorgeous and the kind of house you say “when my kids have left home my house will look like this” and you know that is just bullshit. But it’s nice to dream. Anyhoo, it leaves her freaking out whenever my kids aren’t in view.
Not because they have a history of destroying stuff – inadveryently or deliberately – but just, you know, in case …
Presents are a trauma and incredibly stressful every year – because they are so brilliantly beautiful, and have a lot of stuff, and easy access to stuff they want, so they usually get it before I can purchase it as a present for them. Bastards.
My kids receive all the stuff they ask for and are extremely happy, and leave me thinking “Fuckery, what am I going to get my kids now?!” – they really do deliver in the present department and it’s just awesome.
We are home late (and if they are here, it’s still late when they leave) and playing Santa requires Just Getting Shit Done So I Can Go To Bed and Function In The Morning. Sometimes they are called on to put together presents, which is always fun. Hilarious, really.
Anyhoo, we’re home late. I got caught last year, to-ing and fro-ing from the bedroom hidey spot with presents, so I ensure the kids were left sleeping in the car, whilst I transported the goods into a more suitable, and less-likely-to-be-spring hidey spot before bringing them inside. Where they were beyond giving a fuck about whether Santa got milk and biscuits or not, but still able to advise me that “Santa really doesn’t want vodka.”
Sacks stuffed, milk consumed and reindeer ignored, we toddled off to bed.
We were awoken at 6.00am by a terribly excited Godzilla and forced him to lie still – a feat in itself – for as long as possible. Three minutes later, we had enough of that and gave him a figure. He works well with a definite end in sight, not a vague one, so we said “Wait until 7.00, ok?”
7.00am trundles around; I hear running down the hall (two sets of feet) and some present holding action going on. “HEY!” I yell, and the same two sets of feet work their way back to our bedroom and say “I thought you said we could open presents at 7!”
(Well, the feet didn’t say that, but the mouths that are attached to the feet via an intricate series of bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and other soft tissue did.)
“Wait until Chippie is awake, ok?”
So they woke him.
Chippie being woken is not much fun. No, let’s be honest. It’s frigging HELL. It’s horrible. It really is. We avoid it wherever possible.
With Chippie alternating between Scream-crying and Unable To Keep Eyes Open and Head Up we unwrapped the presents …
Monkey Boy and Godzilla are SO spoilt and got what they’ve asked for each time I take them shopping and don’t buy them, even though they weren’t on the letters to Santa … because I’m nice like that …
I, personally, scored well, and discovered it does, at times, pay to have tantrums. Yes, after a shitful Mother’s Day and Birthday, I was able to adequately express how Getting What I Ask For means a great deal. This year, I even got the Meredith Dairy Goats Cheese I’ve been asking for for a year.
I will not share it with anyone … as the season so heavily dictates.
That (almost) done, and Grumpy and I not yet adequately caffeined up or showered, my Dad and Step-Mother arrive half an hour early for that part of the Christmas Day Festivities.
More presents, some food, more coffee and they head off for the next leg of their Day, and we sleep for an hour or two before embarking on even more food preparation and heading out for yet another Family Gathering.
We hop into the car during a fairly substantial storm, once the hail has eased up. This, of course, requires transporting food, presents and children from the back door to the garage in heavy rain.
Heavy rain persists the entire journey, and requires the transportation of food, presents and children from car to front door in heavy rain.
Arrive to house full of people who aren’t “our” family (but family of family), but who have arrived late for their organised lunch, and “our” family are expectedly late. I will excuse them – as I always do – and blame the torrential rain and dangerous freeways.
The evening is complete with:
- the grumpy Grandmother who yells at some of the kids within 5 minutes of our arrival
- the older cousins playing on their new electronic gadgets and ignoring the younger cousins
- the younger cousins getting bored, eating before food is ready and harassing parents, who eventually hand over their phones so they may partake in the activity that their older cousins are performing, despite everyone being really annoyed by it and finding it rude
- the sibling rivalry that is the older brothers (now aged in their fifth decade) teasing younger siblings
- younger sibling walking out after throwing stuff, crying
- far too much food
- the plans of a backyard picnic dashed by lashings of rain and hail
- rearrangement of furniture to accommodate seating of far too many people for the size of the room
- an uncle, and two cousins asleep on the beanbags in the living area
- only half in attendance sitting down to the dinner, served 3.5 hours after arrival, as the rest had stuffed their faces with the far to much in the way of finger food at the start
- the chaos of present opening, an uncle playing Santa and a cousin helping out … and stopping whenever something had his name on it … I mean, you can’t keep handing out presents to others when there’s an unwrapped one with your name on it, right?
- wrapping paper, excited voices, kisses and hugs and posing for photos …
- the youngest male cousin eyeing off, then wandering off, with the awesome car the oldest male cousin had received as a gift, and having a tantrum when it is taken from him
- and, of course … the inevitable box play …
All in all, it was just as expected … and loads of fun. It wouldn’t feel right if it happened any other way.
And we all went home, far later than planned, and fell asleep in the car on the way there …