I’ve invented a new category for christmas called; the most un-Christmassy Christmas.
Have you ever stopped to mull over all the Christmasses you’ve had, and thought about the happiest, the saddest, the weirdest or even the grumpiest Christmas?
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint my happiest Christmas, but near the top of the list is when I was seven and a half months pregnant with my first child.
Admittedly, I had to put up with the heat for which Christmas in Australia is notorious.
But at our extended family Christmas, I was given the most comfortable chair and waited on like royalty.
I could eat as much I wanted without worrying about putting on weight and was given a leave pass from the washing-up, all overlaid with the joyous anticipation of impending motherhood.
I didn’t even mind the tired jokes about making sure we had a ready supply of towels and boiling water.
I’ve never known the reason for the boiling water – for a cup of tea, perhaps? Though if anyone had offered me a cup of tea while I was in labour I would have thrown it at them.
Maybe it’s for the onlookers.
The Magic of Christmas
When I was a child, Christmas was always magic.
Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations, oohing and aahing at the glittering night lights, singing our favourite carols around the piano and the agonizing anticipation of Santa’s arrival.
Christmas Day seemed to take forever to arrive and every day I would ask my mother more than once, ‘how many days until Christmas?’ until I’m sure she was on the verge of doing something very un-festive.
When Christmas Eve finally rolled around, we did the usual putting out of soft drink and Christmas cake for Santa’s supper, and apple or carrot for the reindeer.
The next morning the glass was empty and the cake and reindeer food had vanished, undeniable proof (not that we needed it) of Santa’s existence.
Elementary, My Dear Watson
But at eight I discovered the truth by a clever process of deduction.
I realised that Santa’s handwriting – ‘with love from Santa’ – on the gift cards sticky-taped to our presents was the same as my mother’s.
She buckled under my interrogation and admitted her deception, at the same time probably kicking herself for her oversight.
The game was up; the magic dissipated overnight and didn’t reappear again until I had children of my own.
The saddest Christmas was decades later when we brought my mother home from her aged care facility to spend Christmas Day with us.
There were lots of laughs and photos and she appeared to enjoy herself.
But we knew it would probably be her last Christmas Day spent away from the facility, due to her advanced stage of Alzheimer’s.
It turned out we were right; she died a couple of years later.
No Room at the Inn
On a lighter note, my most un-Christmassy Christmas – and probably the weirdest as well – was when I was nineteen.
I backpacking around New Zealand with a friend during our university holidays. On Christmas Eve we ended up in Picton, a town in the South Island.
The only accommodation we could find was not, unfortunately, a stable. A stable would have been very welcome.
After we’d exhausted all the options, one of the holiday parks took pity on us and offered us a tree. A large, sturdy tree and as a Christmas special, free of charge.
We had no tents, so we rolled out our sleeping bags on the grass and gazing up at our vast, star-studded ceiling, we drifted off to sleep under the tree’s generous embrace.
Fortunately it didn’t rain. We were woken at dawn by the shouts of children speeding around the park on their brand new bikes, testing their bells for volume and durability.
Some of the families invited us to share Christmas lunch with them, but we decided to push on in the hope of finding a proper bed for the next night.
We managed to get a ride out of town and at lunch time we came upon an open take-away food store.
Our Christmas lunch was a meat pie and ginger beer, sitting on a seat outside the store in the still heat, in a small town that felt like the end of the earth.
I can’t remember where we ended up that night (though we did find a room with a bed), but I remember feeling very homesick for the family whose shackles I’d been so keen to throw off, and relieved once Boxing Day arrived and life could continue as normal.
A Minimalist Christmas
To some, the way my partner and I spend Christmas these days might seem un-Christmassy.
My children are adults and living away from home, and although I can usually count on at least one coming home for Christmas, we don’t bother with a Christmas tree, decorations or carol nights.
I do admit, though, to still oohing and aahing when driving at night and coming upon houses - and whole streets - festooned with Christmas lights.
We dispensed with Christmas presents long ago, preferring to give donations to charity. You could say it’s the lazy person’s way out, but it’s also more satisfying.
A Champagne Toast On Un-Christmassy Christmas
So that leaves what I consider are the most enjoyable and enduring aspects of Christmas – family, friends and food. And the one day of the year I can have champagne for breakfast.
What was your happiest, saddest, weirdest or most un-Christmassy Christmas?
Reveal all in the comments box below.