Well it's been a coupla weeks coz it's that silly season where we all go off to drink, eat, be merry and buy a ridiculous amount of stuff.
Christmas nearly killed me this year. I'm not good at it, at least not til Jan. I grew up in a house that didn't acknowledge santa except for in the plastic form in the $2 shop. We got a small kmart christmas tree some time in my early teens. No pressies, just a 2 foot tree with some gold tinsel and some wrapped up empty boxes sitting beneath it. I didn't mind, hadn't picked up in all the years leading up to that christmas tree that we were ever supposedly missing out on anything. Now we'd moved to a street full of Aussies and I think my parents had cottoned on to the fact that this festive season came with festive bits and bobs.
Before then, whilst my migrant parents were still mixing with migrant friends, there was non of the colour enhanced christmas we see today (hello China :)). Yes there probably was in other families, even probably right next door to us but they didn't speak Serbian so it didn't count. We were still doing the orthodox thing of going to church on the 7th Jan (the day good old Jesus was born according to the old testament calender or something like that), visiting friends, sharing food and solemn stories and .80 alcohol content 'Rakija' shots, and then heading back home in the Kingswood for a rest - christmas, beginning to end over in a single day. Was always a day I remember very fondly, no tinsel needed.
So, no fuss, no pressies, no 12 month saving accounts to support the season. All that was needed was a pressed polyester suit for the fellas and new frock and a good perm for the ladies. Having graciously farewelled communist Yugoslavia not too many years earlier, church at Christmas and Easter was a good opportunity for folks like my parents to have a twice yearly chin wag and meet up newly welcomed Aussie Serbs and rejoice in their roots and faith. And us kids? We just had loads of fun running around in our new frocks and pressed suits too.
There was, ofcourse, probably more to it than that, but not in the storeroom of my (possibly not greatly reliable but can't be far wrong) memory bank.
Now my kiddies are here and I struggle to find the christmas mojo that was never cemented in my own make up. No big family gatherings, no extravagance, no reels of wrapping paper, no pork roasts to reflect on and gain insight from. And so now I fail dismally every year in the traditional Aussie Christmas sense. Hopefully my kids don't notice and R doesn't seem to mind that I'm crap at it (though he reminded me this year about 13 hrs too late that reindeer eat carrots and santa appreciates a glass of milk and cookies - there you go, one additional childhood memory my kids miss out on). To be honest, I crave the simplicity of the days my memories feed me with.
What I do get about Christmas is that it is an opportune time for lots of people to get together where it may not happen otherwise. A season with abundant opportunities to reflect, share and love. It should happen all the time of course, and doesn't. And sadly, far too many miss out on the opportunities for joy. But we know it's the aim, so this year, with none of R's very christmassy family around we decided to take our family christmas spirit down south to Melbourne, which is quite possibly the most glorious city on the planet and my home town naturally.
We started off hanging with the gorgeous godparents to my middle child (who I am pretty certain have since been prescribed Valium to help with the post traumatic stress disorder triggered by having 5 under 5 for 5 days in their otherwise organised home) and then we had our final night at my dads. And wasn't that a hoot. Crazy chaotic household like one big jigsaw puzzle where you are sure the pieces couldn't possibly fit but they all strangely do.
In Rory's words...
"um, Di, do you, um, realise that we have just spent the evening in a room with my 7 yr old brother in law, a fiesty Serb, my Chinese mother-in-law who is younger than my wife, a Sri-Lankin who rents a room somewhere in the house, an ex drug user, a Swedish Iraqi Moslem who is now the husband of your other brothers ex girlfriend and has arrived with your brother whilst I bounce my little girl with Down Syndrome on my knee as we wait for dinner to be served at 10pm".
And I hadn't even noticed. Diversity. Aint it sweet when it hits you in the face and just looks normal to you. Coz it is folks, it is. And that's Christmas too. It doesn't have to be one size fits all.
Hoping you enjoyed yours however you spent it. And hoping 2010 turns out to be your best year yet. It's gonna be a goodie. I can feel it.
For me, next year I promise I'll try and remember the carrots.
PS It's the 7th in 2 days! And that will be my day full of special accumulated memories. If you know a Russian or Serb by birth or background, shout them out a 'happy christmas' I'm sure they'll be tickled by it :)
PSS ****This is a next day PS - my cousin, in Bosnia no less, JUST posted piccies on facebook with christmas trees and kids with stockings full of pressies. Wow. Santa has made it all the way down there too (with a wee little break for a shot of Rakija himself between the 25th and the 7th). Gonna have to investigate whether this is a new phenomenon or whether my memory is just shite or whether we really were the only ones without a tree all those years ago.
PSSS Could ya, would ya, tell me what your christmas memory circa 1978 was?