Losing the magic of Christmas when you’re no longer a kid sucks. I thought I’d share my thoughts on this and how I may possibly revive my Christmas spirit in the future.
4:00am (I know. It sucks as much as you think it does.)
There’s….There’s something exciting about today, but I can’t remember. What was I getting excited about last night? What were we doing last night? It was me, Mum and……No, just me and Mum…and we were…we were watching…Oh right! We were watching Carols by Candlelight! Which means…Ah, fuck it! Where’s my phone?
*Checks calendar on phone, eyes attacked by the blinding light*
The 25th. Okay then…..OH CRAP-IT’S THE 25TH! CHRISTMAS! IT’S CHRISTMAS! MERRY FREAKIN’ CHRISTMAS!
I hate that feeling I’ve been having the past few years when I first wake up and realize what day it is. The first emotion is the same pure happiness I felt when I was a kid and Christmas was the most wonderful thing ever. But now, that happiness is immediately overturned by a sigh.
Being a kid on Christmas was easy. I’ve always woken up before the rest of my family, but at least I could open my bedroom door and find my stocking stuffed full of toys and lollies to keep me occupied for that first couple of hours. Sometimes my brother would come into my room, or I’d go into his and we’d compare and bicker over who Santa liked better based on what he had given us. Of course later on, we’d learn that it was our parents who had supplied everything and that they would never spend more money on one child than the other. Nowadays, there is no more stocking on the door and all I have to occupy my thoughts with until the rest of the house wakes up are the things I’ll have to carry out throughout the day. The stocking thing stopped quite a few years ago and now that I’m 20, I’m sure I don’t need a new bouncy rubber ball or a colouring book and some pencils. I think I can survive without them.
Time to wake up the parents!
The 8-year-old me had already snuck out of my bedroom to see how many presents ‘Santa’ had placed under the Christmas tree, but I knew the rules. No present-opening until Nanna (Dad’s mum) comes over for breakfast! Sometimes Pop (Mum’s dad) would come over as well. We Hill’s aren’t a religious family by any means, so there was no morning mass to attend. Until Nanna turned up, my brother and I would burst into our parents’ bedroom and jump on the bed, arms still laden with our stocking booty, showing it off to the people who had brought it in the first place. Eventually we’d get kicked out so the adults could get dressed. I’d immediately head back to the Christmas tree and maybe feel a couple of the ones labelled for me to see if I could guess what it is. Before long, Nanna (and maybe Pop) would arrive and the present opening would commence! Followed by eggs and bacon for brekkie! A great start to the day!
This year will be marginally different. I’m still in the habit of feeling presents so I can guess what it might be, but I usually already know what it is because I picked it out. I may have even been there when the present was bought! My assorted grandparents still come over for the eggs and bacon and we still sit around the tree, Dad acting as mediator by handing presents out one-at-time. It’s a less exciting, but a happy tradition that’s completed due to tradition more than anything else. There’s normalcy to it: if we didn’t do it, then it just wouldn’t be Christmas. Once that is over, Nanna will head home, either to prepare what she was bringing for Christmas Lunch at our house or to prepare to host the extended family at hers.
Afternoon into Night
Christmas Lunch changes location every year. If it was to be at our house, you could either expect some type of roast, or a BBQ. For other families, their big meal comes at dinner time, but we prefer it to be in the middle of the day. Eating that much food before going to bed generally isn’t a good idea! If we ended up hungry by dinnertime, there was enough leftovers from lunch to last until New Years! If we were to have Christmas Dinner, it was usually at a relative’s house. We would have spent a couple of hours on the road, the 8-year-old me clutching into my new favourite toy and blabbering out a new theory on how Santa managed to deliver presents to every kid in Australia.
While the food situation hasn’t changed, having relatives come to visit, or going to visit relatives is a very different experience as an adult. As a kid, I was happy to receive attention, to be asked how school was going and to be praised for my achievements. The conversation has changed so much in the past 10 years, but I bet I can sum it up in a few answers for the questions I know I am going to get.
- My Bachelor degree is going fine, thank you for asking.
- I’m enjoying living out of home, but it looks like I’ll be moving back since I couldn’t get a job before my scholarship ran out.
- Yes, I tried applying there. And there. And there too. I TRIED EVERYWHERE, OKAY?
- No, I do not have a ‘special someone’. And no, I’m not trying to hide the relationship because I really don’t have one….Yes, I know I’ll find someone eventually. Yeah, thanks for the encouragement.
*Slams face into plate of food*
I have never been very social during these types of celebrations. I always tried to sit and listen to the grown-ups, trying to understand all the ‘adult talk’. That usually included family gossip about relatives who weren’t attending, funny stories about years past, or simply politics. That was far more inviting then trying to play with my cousins. I don’t hate my cousins by any means, but I just felt like a fifth wheel, only there due to family obligation. I didn’t like the games they played, or the occasional fighting that would lead to one of us in tears. My brother may have kept up with them, but I would have preferred to bury myself in a book. That hasn’t changed over the years.
In between bites of lamb chops, rissoles, sausages or salad, I try to keep the attention off myself unless I have something to contribute to a conversation. A great way to steer clear of social interaction has been to help cook and prepare the lunch. I would do the whole thing myself, salads, desserts and even cleaning the BBQ if it meant I wouldn’t have to pretend I love having so many people to catch-up with at once. Some of the best Christmas’ I’ve had are when my family travel from house to house over the course of December, dealing with one set of extended family members at a time. I love my relatives dearly, but the introvert in me can only take them in small doses. Call it a rather unfortunate quirk.
By late afternoon, unless we’re off to visit people, I’m generally done for the day. The weather is at its hottest around that time, so we all hide inside. That’s right, my American friends! While you guys get to warm up by the fire, we Australian’s try our best not to melt into the floor. That in itself a bit difficult if you happen to be on BBQ duty for the day! Chilled alcohol is great way to keep cool, which may be why just about everyone has a ‘Drunk Aunt/Uncle/Grandma’ story to tell by the end of the holiday season. But I digress.
Christmas in Reflection:
Everyone treats Christmas differently once they reach adulthood. I know a few people who begin to treat it just like any other day, and a few who scramble to keep the magic alive in themselves. Some have never celebrated Christmas to begin with due to belonging to another Faith. I’m still in the middle of creating a new spark for the holiday. As an atheist, the religious aspects of Christmas has never provided me more than an amusing story to coincide along with the day. If I’m ever going to enjoy Christmas again with the same happy abandon I experienced as a child, I’m pretty sure it will be with my family. That’s what it has always been about. Carols and TV specials can only go so far and presents should never be the important part.
Perhaps the magic will return once I have a niece or nephew to spoil. I could take part in their traditions: the present-opening ceremonies then the parade of said gifts in the moments after. I could introduce them to my favourite Christmas carols and teach them how to make decorations. We could cook the Christmas Lunch together and make a huge mess while doing it. We could try to beat our own paper-chain making record year after year. I could make them laugh by telling them funny stories about their grandparents, or even some silly things I had done.
One day, somehow I know I will be able to feel once again, that there is no better time of the year to be alive on then the 25th of December.