Friday, 6 December 2013

When the man in the red suit comes to town

For once, I haven't gone into complete shock at this time of year.  Only 2 more weeks and the boys will finish school for the year and a few days after that, we'll be sitting around the table, with far too much food to eat, celebrating Christmas.  Since becoming a mum, Christmas has become such a special time for me and has a whole new meaning.  As a child, I remember that it was a good time because the man in the red suit would come to visit and leave me lots of goodies.  But now, I enjoy it even more, on a whole new level, now that I get the chance to cook for the family and make the day extra special in our home.  On the down side, this time of year can also be depressing for some, stressful, over rated and too hyped.......I understand that too, but the man in the red suit sure has a lot of towns to visit, as the 25th of December is celebrated in many parts of the world..........and that's got to be worth something.
This year, I got our decorations ready just a bit early.  I put a few things up around the house, the lights went up outside and the Christmas tree was also up and decorated earlier than usual.  Each year, I always look forward to doing this but I also feverishly take them down again, quick smart when it is all over, because by that stage I've had enough.  We don't have a plastic Christmas tree, never thought that was the real thing and each year we buy a fresh pine tree to put in our front room and enjoy the wonderful smell of the pine.  For us, it has always been a ritual to go and get the tree each year, pick one that is a nice shape and keep it watered throughout December so that it doesn't wilt too much.  Our tree is what a friend of mine called a 'family tree' and I had to laugh and agree with her, as it is full of mismatched decorations, the same ones that we use each year, with bits and pieces that the kids have made to hang on it.  It's not a work of art, far from it, but a symbol about what Christmas is all about for us and that is being together as a clan, happy and excited to celebrate this special time of the year.
I mentioned that I also like to pack everything away as soon as it's all over.......but maybe it will be different this year.......we'll see.  I usually madly put everything away, as quickly as it was put up weeks earlier, because I always enjoy Christmas but am always so very glad to see the back of it when it is all over.  Considering that all of the Christmas stuff starts appearing in the shops in the first week of November and every man and his dog is trying to cash in when and where they can, I get very sick of the marketing and the hype.  I also breathe a sigh of relief to know that all has been done and the man in the red suit did actually make it to our place with lots of goodies.......that in itself is a stress, with 3 little kids with big ideas, I try my best not to disappoint.  But this year, I am determined to keep this under control after always going way too overboard with the presents.......I'm just your typical mother who can't help herself and gets so much joy in seeing those little faces light up and hearing the squeals of delight, usually at about 4am on Christmas morning!
Then there's lunch, now this is my very favourite part.  I always look forward to the Christmas cooking magazines and pick up a couple each year, getting very excited with all of the wonderful things to cook and bake, thinking that I'll get creative and try some.  I have to laugh because I don't usually end up making any of it and stick to the proven, traditional formula that works ever year for Christmas lunch.  My husband says that, after all, I'm Italian so I don't need a recipe LOL!!  Thought this year, I'd spit roast the turkey (for my readers not in Australia, we call a rotisserie roast a 'spit'....strange, I know).  That way, I'll have more room in the oven for the roast pork, a family favourite.  I like to glaze a smoked ham also and we have all of that with plenty of roast vegies and gravy, cranberry sauce and mustard, followed of course, with a plum pudding and brandy cream.  Yep, that's the usual for us.......oh, and of course, Christmas Day wouldn't be Christmas Day without some festive cocktails, lots of pink champagne and maybe just a drop or two of Jack Daniels for the King of the Castle.
We'll all get together, sit around my table that I take much pride in setting with my Christmas plates and other bits and pieces and have a pretty good day.......but I know that this is not the same for everyone.  Firstly, I am blessed that I can say that we do all of these things at Christmas, that we are all together, happy and healthy.  I also have to say that many are not and this pains me.  I won't write too much about this and state the obvious, but I want to say that I acknowledge and understand that for many, they are not 'all together, happy and healthy'.  
This is what sucks about life, we also have to bare the pain of not having loved ones with us that we have lost, families are broken up after marriage breakdowns, many don't have the money for Christmas and have to go without, many are seriously ill and it's often a time of year when families fight.......to name only a few points about the sadness of this time of year.  As miserable as this all sounds, I have to say that this is reality and it's usually on days like the 25th of December, that we remember just what we don't like about Christmas and how sad and traumatic that it can be.  I am sorry to have to write all of that, but in all fairness, it has to be said and for many it is not a 'merry' time.  That is why I never take anything for granted in this life and truly believe that I am a very lucky lady who can say that for me, Christmas is indeed joyful and for that I am privileged, very grateful and humble.  Thank you very much to the powers that be for making it this way for me and my family.
After eating way too much and being full of champagne, there'll be stacks of dishes to do, loads of wrapping paper to throw out and 3 screaming kids bouncing off the walls even at the end of the day.  I'll be tired and relieved that the day has come and gone for another year, but then get very excited about New Year's Eve and wondering what 2014 will bring.  I'll be thinking about a long, hot summer and seeing more family and friends who are coming to visit from interstate in January and I will be happy.  I will no doubt sneak into our bedroom at about 4pm and have a quick snooze before I have to start cleaning up.  It will be worth all the bother and I will give my husband a peck on the cheek, tell him I love him and feel mighty fine.  My kids won't stop until they get into bed that night and I'll look at them in awe and amazement, thinking back to when they were just little babies, wriggling around in my tummy before they were born.  I'll thank God for all of this, say a little prayer and eventually crawl into bed myself after the work is done and collapse with exhaustion.  But that's OK, it's Christmas and the man in the red suit has done his duty for another year :) xxx