It's Christmas again! The mailbox is overflowing with Christmas Catalogues. Every store is offering special Christmas bargains. We are besieged with information about how we need to show our loved ones just how much we care by buying them a 103 cm Plasma TV or a diamond ring costing $7,000.
The Christmas hype is a part of our society. There is such a build up – the Christmas parties, the buying of gifts, the shopping for enough food to feed a small army. The opening line in most conversations is likely to be ‘So – are you all prepared for Christmas?’ And the next most common statement you are likely to hear at this time of year would have to be ‘I will be so glad when it’s all over!’
Every year it’s the same. The world goes crazy at Christmas time. Many stores are only closed for the one day, and yet, from the frenzied activity leading up to that day, you would swear that they were closing for a month. Everyone has a headache, sore feet, aching arms from carrying all those bags and everyone is short tempered and tired.
Of course the children are beside themselves with excitement. Even those who no longer believe in the jolly fat man in his red suit will be tingling with glorious anticipation of opening up their presents on Christmas morning. The latest IPod, IPhone, Xbox, PlayStation. Gone are the days when Grandma can get away with a box of hankies and a bag of Christmas lollies like my Grandmother did for me.
And then it finally arrives – Christmas Day in all its glory. The children descend on their presents with frantic glee and, within minutes some one is crying. Something doesn’t work. It’s the wrong colour/size/model. Someone stepped on it/sat on it/ just plain deliberately broke it.
Then the relatives arrive and the real fun begins. The boys get into a dust up within minutes. Your son says it was Billy who started it, but of course Billy says it was your boy and everyone always seems to believe what Billy says.
Aunty A gets a bit put out because no one comments on her potato salad. But everyone knows that if they do, Aunty B will get all upset and think they are referring to the one time she decided to bring the potato salad – and the potatoes were still half-raw. Uncle G gets drunk, as usual, and starts making suggestions to every female in the room under the age of 85. Eventually Uncle C has had enough and threatens to take him outside.
One of the kids throws up all over the bathroom floor. Your cat scratches your sisters little girl all down one side of her face, which earns you a rebuke for having such a vicious animal around where the children can get at it – never mind that the little dear was actually dragging the cat out from under your bed by it’s tail!!!
Eventually the day is over and everyone has gone home, leaving you with your house looking like a bomb site. And you swear, next year, you will pack a picnic lunch and go to the beach.
So why then, when I was faced with the likelihood that it would just be my husband and me for this Christmas – no fuss, no extra expense, no family dramas – did I feel a wee bit sad? When people asked me if I was all ready for Christmas, and I told them we weren’t really going to bother with it all this year – why did it make me feel so heavy of heart? It’s just another day, for goodness sake.
But then I got an email from a dear friend who invited us to spend Christmas Day with her and her family – and suddenly I understood. It’s all about feeling like a part of something.
It’s that look you exchange with a total stranger as you stand behind your overflowing trolley in the endless supermarket queue – the rolls of Christmas wrapping paper and the giant frozen turkey. The look that says ‘Don’t you hate it all this? Won’t you be so glad when it’s all over for another year?’
Yes, we hate it, and we can’t wait for it to be over, but we seem to need it. It’s one of those things like going out on Saturday night when you’re a teenager. Most of the time all you end up with an empty wallet and a splitting headache – but if you have to stay at home, for whatever reason, you feel somehow cheated.
May this Christmas be the one when everything goes just as you planned. When the kids just love their presents and the relatives all manage to get along with each other. When everyone has a really great time and they even stay around long enough to help you clean up the mess afterwards.
Merry Christmas and very happy, safe and prosperous New Year.
©Lyn Murphy 2010