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.