How good is Christmas? It’s the most wonderful time of the year isn’t it? Of course it is – that’s if you have learnt to stress less and just go with the flow. Now, at the ripe age of 38 years, I think that Christmas is amazing. As I have grown older (and wiser) I’ve learnt that Christmas is what you make it.
If you’re new here I have 3 boys – my eldest son is 17, then 15 and the youngest is 8 years old. When my older 2 boys were round 12/13 years old they found a box of wrapped presents that were from Santa in the spare room. Every kids jackpot win right?
Kids being kids, they opened nearly all of these presents. In their defence, the presents did have their names on them, so they opened them. Makes sense right? Totally – that’s if you’re a tween and give zero fucks about consequences. Which, at this time in their life, my boys did.
Come Christmas Eve and Mr and Mrs Clause put out the presents. You soon realise that either your list has gone to shit or you do infact favour one child the most as lots of things are missing. You also realise that you have no more shits to give as you have been working right up until Christmas, got caught up in the ‘Christmas Stress’ so you just take yourself to bed with the thought that in the morning everything will be fine and will work itself out.
Introducing Christmas Morning 2014. Shit went down! We all woke up with so much excitement, which is usual on Christmas morning. Now, call me Old Skool but when I was little me, my brother and my sister all took turns opening our presents. It’s actually a brilliant idea. I have learnt by doing this that the kids actually appreciate the gift/s that they are opening and take a minute to take it all in. The boys pull sticks on Christmas Eve to see which one is going first. Makes more for the excitement.
The present opening began. I knew they were getting good gifts and their faces did not show any sort of excitement. None – you know like when Richie Rich gets a new Rolls Royce and has thousands of dollars in the glovebox at cos and it doesn’t phase him at all. Then when someone looks in the glove box they think it’s the best thing in the world and Richie Rich couldn’t give a shit cos he’s a self entitled prick. Well, it was a lot like that but for some reason there was a hint of attitude. If you know tweens then the attitude is THE worst! It was then we realised that they have opened the gifts before this day have hidden them in their rooms.
So I called it. I stopped them from opening presents. They stopped opening their gifts, I lost my shit and sent them to their room for about 40 minutes. I need time to calm down, WE needed time to calm down. While I was calming down, I Googled a letter that I remembered seeing earlier that month about how you don’t ever stop believing in Santa. It’s the ‘magic’, the thoughts, the giving, the gift of family and friends at Christmas that makes Christmas special and just because you don’t believe in Santa and know that Santa isn’t real you need to keep that magic alive. Not only for yourself, but for your family (and their little brother, who was 4 at the time) I think I was pissed off and sad that they found out that Santa isn’t real by snooping through the house.
Once we all cooled down the youngest opened his present while the other 2 watched. We then went on about our day. It ended up being a fab Christmas – it was our first family Christmas – just the 5 of us. We didn’t have to go anywhere, didn’t have to see anyone. Everyone was in bed by 7pm. Was perfect. The older 2 learnt their lesson to never open presents before Christmas again.
Now, what happens next you may judge, you may not but remember raising kids is a hell of a job. Some of my friends call it an Urban Legend. Some call it the best parenting move in all of the world. Also remember I raise my kids to know that what is given to them is earnt (except on Christmas and Birthdays) and there are consequences to actions – they knew this while they were opening their presents in the spare room a few days before Christmas.
We kept the present that were from Mum and Dad (us). They didn’t open them on Christmas Day. Instead -the older 2 boys got their Christmas gifts from me and my husband on the last week of the school holidays. Yep ONE MONTH LATER. No it wasn’t late, no we didn’t forget. We gave it to them when we thought that they deserved it –and they did. They deserved it and they also realised that what they did was a major fuck up. But they pulled though and got their presents – which were clothes (that they wanted), a pair of shoes (again what they wanted) and go cart vouchers (yep – what they wanted). Lesson was well learnt –now years on they don’t even think about opening a present for birthdays or Christmas. 5 years on nothing like this has ever happened. Not even with the youngest, seems at a young age you learn what not to do from your older brothers.
Do you love or hate Christmas? Most people have a Love Hate Relationship with Christmas and December don’t they. I love the food, my Mum makes trifle every year whenever we visit and the boys know that at Christmas I buy food that we wouldn’t normally buy. Heck, I spent $200 last week on ‘holiday food’ to get the family through until mid January so I can avoid the shops. My husband loves that he buys a carton (or 2) of beer and the kids get to drink soft drink (which doesn’t happen a lot during the year). I used to think that making biscuits, rocky road and all things sweet was the best until I was doing it every year and ended up hating the thought of doing it. Although I did make rocky road this week. I’m a sucker for tradition. I can’t bake cookies in a shape at the best of times (they always go flat or spread), not sure why I thought baking reindeer and tree shape cookies would be any different.
I do love making and giving (and receiving) handmade gifts – it’s my favourite, not just at Christmas but for Mothers Day, birthdays anything really. Handmade gifts are the best. Yes you may spend twice as much getting all the craft and then finding time. Oh my, to find time to do craft is exhausting am I right? Everything takes time doesn’t it? So. Much. Time. But at Christmas it’s different because everything is sparkling, there’s lights in the house, outside the house. There’s so many events and the shops are a nightmare. Speaking of shops – people make handmade gifts to NOT go to the shops. That’s why we make gifts – to avoid the shops at all costs. That’s right isn’t it?
Speaking of shops – how easy is it for Husbands? Like seriously – how easy have they got it at Christmas? We, as either the Mum’s or the ‘main’ female of the household are flat chat. We’re lucky we don’t have a large family, but still there is so much organising and planning, especially if you go away. Then there’s ‘bring a plate’ for Christmas day, the list of presents for who and what, the budget, work (because you have to work, cos well, life) and the list goes on. All the Husband’s have to worry about it what time they finish work on the last day for the year, making sure they have enough beer and making sure you don’t lose your shit cos you’re doing everything.
My husband is pretty good at keeping me calm and making sure I don’t go overboard or flip out at Christmas. Any other time of the year, not so great. But he (along with many other husbands) live the life at this time of year. I thought it was just my husband that doesn’t do much – but how wrong I was. Seems I have 3 friends and their husband’s are the same as mine at Christmas time. What a life! My husband does this AMAZING thing where he would be in a circle socialising with the family – then he would just disappear for like 3 hours. Gone. Not to be seen. Turns out he would be sleeping in the spare room or on a couch or anywhere he can lie his head. It’s like his party trick – it’s amazing. Mum’s imagine if we did that? That party trick that would be the best party trick in all of the land – could you imagine Mum’s disappearing from kids and family and sleep for 3 hours? I did actually do it last year – it was pretty good.
Although, my kids are old enough to “look after themselves” for a few hours, I usually find I haven’t drunk enough to warrant a 3 hour afternoon sleep #firstworldproblems.
Despite all my ‘whinging’ I do love Christmas – I love that in my day job I get to see my clients Christmas trees and houses all pretty and decorated (I’m a cleaner) I also love seeing to do lists on fridges – it makes me happy that I’m not the only one that goes bat shit crazy about a To Do List. I love the looks on my kids faces when they get their ‘joke’ present. We started a Joke Present between my kids. They pull a name out of a hat and then they buy for that brother – I give them $5. Yep, $5, we all know you can’t buy a lot with $5 – but you would be surprised. It’s not allowed to be food. They open this gift on Christmas Eve. A few years ago we started a tradition. We don’t have a lot of traditions, we are usually a ‘go with the flow’ family. This tradition involves food – how unusual. Because in Queensland (and the rest of Australia) its hot as fuck in December we usually crack out the blow up pool and have a small feast. Nothing fancy, it’s pretty much chips, crackers, dip, potato salad and sausages cooked on the bbq and bread rolls – followed by my signature ‘ice cream cake’ which is a tub of 4 litre icecream, chopped chocolate honeycomb, lollies, biscuits and whatever else they fancy. Mix it all in and re-frezze. The kids love it. Then they exchange presents and then usually a Christmas movie, leave food outside for the reindeer, letter to Santa. Then bed.
Whatever you do and however you spend your Christmas Day and holidays – make sure it’s an enjoyable one. Be responsible, have a Destinated Driver, be good and just enjoy the break (if you get to be so lucky). Christmas can also be a sad time of year for people. Missing a family member (s) or friend at this time of year can be fucken tough. Remember, if you need help and/or you need to speak to someone because you are not OK – that is OK. Please be sure to reach out and ring Lifeline or Beyond Blue those line are always open and there’s someone on the other side to listen. Please don’t feel that you aren’t important or that you don’t matter. Because you certainly DO matter and people do care.
Merry Christmas Friends!!