Merry Bloody Christmas or Whatever

Didn’t have a Christmas tree last year. Talking to my housemates it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, since none of us were gonna be around. A couple of us were on holiday across the silly season, a couple were going to be celebrating it with separate groups of friends, I was always working or sleeping when any celebrations with what was left might have happened. I joked a couple of times about raiding the parking lots of some of the office buildings lining the Skytrain tracks. They’d filled their flowerpots with pine trees you see, to mark the season. Wouldn’t have been all that hard one night to have hopped a fence, sawed off the top of one of their trees and brought it back to the house. We all laughed, remarked that it would have been a pretty awesome attempt at getting into the holiday spirit, but never did. Mostly, I like to think, because we didn’t have a saw. Not sure if I would’ve had the balls to do it if we did, but the fact that I looked for a saw at all says something about my state of mind last silly season. Only positive things, I’m sure.

So my celebrations last Christmas were small. Practically non-existent if I’m being perfectly honest. Most of the close mates I’d made were locals or localish. They had families they were spending time with and there are certain holidays you don’t ask your random Aussie bud to attend, Christmas being the top of that list. It didn’t help that it just didn’t feel like Christmas, hilariously enough. Cold, wet, quiet and a little formal, whereas Chrissy for me had always been hot, loud and casual. Shorts and t-shirt, soccer or cricket in the backyard, water bombs and water guns, loud conversation and gorging ourselves on stew and barbecue. Far different to the semi-rigid traditional family dinners that so many of my Canadian mates described. Then again I didn’t actually attend any, so how the fuck would I know?

Cultural points of reference are different as well. I mean, sure, I’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life before. It’s apparently a classic. I haven’t seen it in about ten years though, and I’ve never watched A Christmas Story. Didn’t even know there was a movie called A Christmas Story and that it was a cultural milestone for North Americans until I saw it on a Cracked video. Nor have I seen A Charlie Brown Christmas or that version of A Christmas Carol with Bill Murray. As for on the Australian side, well, I guess they don’t understand the Boxing Day Test? They don’t actually understand Boxing Day if I’m being perfectly honest. I don’t know. I guess I was just a Stranger in a Strange Land. Doesn’t matter. Aussie Christmas is the superior Christmas.

Fewer concerns about the ongoing “War against Christmas” as well. Seriously, I heard three months of comically stupid bitching about Starbucks decision to stick with plain red cups last year. This year Peter Dutton (Member of Parliament and comically stupid example of the physical and psychological effects of sticking your head in a barrel of botox for extended periods) called upon good, honest Aussie Christians to rise up against the PC crowd’s war on good, honest Aussie Christmas. That was on the news for about two days, and then we forgot about it. Thank God.

I guess the celebrating I did was on Christmas Eve. That was fun. Went with a coworker and her boyfriend to go see Die Hard at the Rio Theater. Went for a walk trying to find an open bar somewhere on Commercial Drive, failed, and ended up just knocking one back in the back of their car. Yeah, that was good fun. Not being sarcastic, I have very fond memories of that. Called my parents when I got back to the house, it already being Christmas Day over there. Here. That was nice. Funny how it was a year ago now. Feels like so much longer, while other memories feel like they happened yesterday.

I helped put up the family tree. I might even claim that I did most of the work. Not in front of my siblings, of course, but they’d make the exact same claim. It’s artificial, and been in the family for over twenty years. Still looks fantastic. The underneath is filled with presents, the results of six people (five of whom earn an income) making up for all those years when beneath the tree was bare. We’re waiting for some close family friends to arrive, ready to eat, drink, laugh and reminisce. I’m downstairs, with my brother, earphones in to drown out the music my dad’s playing upstairs. Shitty music by shitty artists and Coldplay. Swear to god he hasn’t bought a single new song since well before I left. He had to shave off his beard a couple days ago as well, after he mangled a trimming, which is shame cause he had a great silver fox black santa thing going. Mum’s been cooking, prepping and cooking some more. I’ll be pouring drinks later. It’s gonna be a good day. So’s tomorrow.

I hope you guys all have a great couple days as well, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or your own tradition’s or don’t celebrate anything at all. I hope you guys have an excellent time.

Wishing you a very Merry Bloody Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Holiday fun and traditions

There are soldiers in my family’s Christmas Tree. Not real ones, of course. The small, plastic, green, toy kind. I was a bit late positioning them amongst the branches this year, making sure that they’re camouflaged amongst the needles but still visible enough that they’re easy to find when we take the tree back down. Normally I put them in at the beginning of the month when we put the tree up, but it’s been a busy few weeks so I only managed to get them in a couple of days ago. The important thing is that they’re there.

It’s been a tradition in my family since I was about five, ever since I got my first bag of army men and set about defending/conquering the living room. They’ve been part of the decorations every year since, and the tree is just not complete without them. Similarly, there are separate decorations that can only be put up by myself, one of my siblings or my parents. Again, the tree isn’t complete until I hang up a simple wooden angel playing the guitar and my sister hangs up a marionette redcoat clown (that’s a lot cuter than it sounds). We don’t use the stereotypical stockings, instead mum stuffs a bunch of lollies and gag gifts into a regular nylon stocking with an orange and dollar coin in the toe. My sisters, brother and I put together one for each of my parents. Apparently it’s an old English thing. As far as I’m concerned it’s just our thing.

It’s all a bit of family fun. We take having fun at Christmas very seriously. After all, if you’re not having fun then what’s the fucking point? I picked up the eldest of my younger sisters from her place in Bondi this morning, then drove over to the Bondi Junction Westfields (shopping centre/mall) to finish out Christmas shopping. We laughed and joked and had a generally good time. Afterwards, a narrow spot, an over-large pillar and an impatient line of cars behind us cost me the shell covering my car’s left side mirror as I pulled out of my parking space in the centre’s stupid carpark. Within five minutes it was a running joke, both of us chuckling at my obviously frustrated behaviour.

Tomorrow we’ll head to the paternal grandparent’s house to eat, drink and be generally merry. Genuinely try to avoid talking about politics and religion over the dinner table. The maternal family is divided between West Australia and Tasmania. We’ve done a few Christmases in the southmost state before. Love them, but the Sydney family are far better cooks (Middle Eastern cuisine versus what one sister refers to as ‘white people food’). The day after, plans with my mates to drive up to Jervis Bay have been killed by their own spontaneity, so we’ll probably just go watch the cricket at a nice pub instead. Should be fun. Mum will pull out a couple thousand piece jigsaw to do, another family tradition. Right now, we’ve got our neighbours and some very close family friends over. Very close, as in drove us home from the maternity clinic after my brother was born because dad was in the hospital across the road with a broken arm close (another story for another time). Everybody’s pretty relaxed and nicely buzzed. I’ve been mixing drinks, amaretto sours for the most part with a whiskey sour in it for me and a pair of caipirinhas (it’s a hobby), as well as wine and beer. It’s been a good night.

I love Christmas. So to those who read this, whatever holiday you celebrate even if you don’t celebrate one at all, I hope the next few days are safe, productive and, most of all, fun.