A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS
For the past ten years Christmas has been a bit of a mixed bag; a Christmas at home, a couple of orphaned ones , a few overseas, a day with the in-laws. I guess you could say there has been no ritual for a while. I’m cool with that, no pressure to make that plum pudding because that’s been my ‘job’ ever since I could reach the stovetop, no annual pep talks to myself about getting through another Christmas lunch sitting next to my bat poop crazy Aunty Maud who disapproves of every word that falls out of my mouth. Also, I can drink my weight in Champagne and not worry about getting drunk because I probably won’t be in the same company the following year.
But we had The First Grandchild and we moved to the sticks (hello holiday house) so we’re locked into a Christmas rhythm until our kid moves to the big smoke, gets a tattoo of Bevis and Butthead and decides family is not cool.
I’ve nicknamed it Christmas in the Desert, looking out over our patch of dirt to a mirage of shandy glasses and half-baked magpies. It’s so darn hot all I want to do is lay around in my knickers and eat a bowl full of prawns. But I can’t. My ticket has been called and I must step up to the plate. The time has come to don the mad-woman-in-the-kitchen crown. I never thought my life would come to this. I’ve been panicking over not having purchased bonbons and my mother’s giving me grief because I haven't bought the babe a Christmas present yet. She’s 17 months old, calls me Dadda and woofs at me, hello!
I’ve been flicking through fancy magazines trying to get country Christmas inspiration but I can’t quite grasp the idea of spending $50 on one linen napkin from Egypt, and I don’t have the time or the patience to make a wreath out of foraged pinecones and baby’s breath (but could whip something up out of babies vomit). We want the day to be just so because we have family coming from faraway places. They’re on holiday, we’re on a three day itinerary planning bonanza. We’ve even vacuumed the cobwebs.
Paul missioned it to Bendigo to buy prawns and festive cheer (alcohol) only to break down in the Dan Murphy’s carpark and get towed back to Newstead. The lengths you’ll go to have the day just right. I’ve been asked if I’ve done all my Christmas shopping for the past three months. These same people look at me in horror when I tell them our family doesn’t exchange presents.
Where did all this pressure come from? When did we start needing to chop down a pine tree to have it slowly die in a corner of the living room dropping pine needles everywhere? Why do we think it’s necessaryto over cater EVERY SINGLE YEAR, people are full after a slice of ham and a mouthful of cranberry sauce. Also, why do families insist on having massive gatherings when 90% of them don’t even like each other?
I have one sick Christmas pleasure though, I live for channel 7’s Carols by Candlelight, it’s the dumbest crap to air on television, but it reminds me of being a kid and I get a real rise yelling abuse at the screen when each B-grade actor from Home and Away gets up to perform. I don’t own a T.V. so when I tried to watch in on the net last year and found out you couldn’t stream it I was truly devastated. True story.
The other great story I like to tell is how my mother bough our first and only Christmas tree when I was 15. She spent about $200 on expensive decorations, plastered them all over the tree then became quite depressed as she said she could hear the tree screaming in pain. Needless to say we never had a lovely pine enter our house again!
So this Christmas we are serving paella and there might be a cheese board but the best part is we’re putting the three family members that we’ve allowed to hang with us to work gardening. HA! Put that in your pipe and smoke it Santa!