Merry Christmas if you’re celebrating today. Tell us about your favourite holiday tradition.
I don’t really *do* Christmas. I’m not really a fan of it, but most of the time it’s just done out of obligation. But for all the bitching and moaning about it, it always manages to turn out to not be the worst experience of my life.
For as long as I can remember, we always did a ‘European Christmas’, where we would celebrate Xmas on Xmas eve with platters of breads and crackers and dips and sliced meats and cheeses and fruit platters, and of course, a LOT of chocolate, that had always melted and soldified a couple of times due to the heat.
Sidenote: When I was a kid, I remember it being stinking hot, like, 37-43 degrees Celsius, because it was our summer, and summer in the country where it’s flat and dry is even worse, because it’s actually significantly hotter. So whilst the ‘official’ temperatures were around 40 deg. C, it would actually be more like 45-46 deg. C. I remember one particular summer, and it was Boxing Day and the outside temp, in the shade was 49.5 deg. C. I also remember that day because a couple of friends of mine, who were still in town, decided to go swim in the local dam to cool off, and our thongs and bike tyres started melting on the bitumen on the road – the tar underneath had also started melting.
So, as I was saying, we would do European Christmas, and were allowed to open one or two smaller presents, and then we’d open the rest on Christmas Day… and that was if we stayed home.
If we went to my father’s family’s for Christmas, fuuuuuck me.
we’d be there a couple of days prior and it would be great – we’d be off spending time with our cousins, or at one of our aunty’s places, swimming in the pool, or just mindlessly watching the cricket in the comfort of the aircon. NB: at no point was my watching the cricket ever voluntary. I’d have much preferred to be watching Days of Our Lives instead. So of course, if Aunty C. ever said she needed to go up to the shops, I would always volunteer to go with her. Any chance to get away from the cricket!
By the time Christmas Day rolled around, it was some kind of exhausting production. We all had to be dressed and ready and over there by 10:30 – 11am at the latest because she would always talk about how much she would need help on the day, but then completely flip out, and totally take control of absolutely everything. Now, this was the type of big family gathering that I really wasn’t that interested in. There was a schedule of what had to be done and when, and it just got a bit ridiculous, but when you’re having lunch for about 30 people, you kind of need some sort of structure to the day.
All the adults would be drinking beers on the balcony, whilst myself and all my cousins had to play quietly either in the living room, or downstairs. the reality was, we were too preoccupied daring each other to keep stealing candy canes off the tree – they were for decorating, not for eating! But by the end of the day, most of them had disappeared, but nobody seemed to notice.
Sometimes we’d do presents first, and then lunch, or the other way around, but it was the big kind of pompous gathering around the tree, where nobody really has any room, and we all opened our presents in front of each other, and then you had to wade through the sea of legs and discarded wrapping paper just to cross the floor and say thankyou to them for the gift, and give them a hug, then try to avoid tripping and breaking your neck on the way back.
Lunch was always some kind of military exercise. The kids had to enter the room first and take their seats, then the parents, and then all the food would come down. We’d have a couple of toasts to say thanks… ‘blah blah blah, christmas, blah blah, family, blah blah gathering, blah blah blah’, stop me if you’ve already gone through this. And there was enough food to feed a small army, and of course, the Christmas pudding filled with old coins. It was at one of these christmas lunches that I tried my first oyster. And gagged. And vomited in my mouth. And then re-swallowed it. It wasn’t pretty. I think that was also the same year that I dived into the pool afterwards, and scraped my nose and forehead along the bottom of the pool, leaving me bleeding profusely, completely oblivious to the extent of the injury.
I’m not entirely sure how old I was, the last time I went up for a big family Christmas with them, but I just remember always fighting with my grandmother about what I was wearing. Apparently wanting to wear a singlet or even a t-shirt and boardshorts in 38 degree weather isn’t acceptable, and would always force me to change into something more ‘dressy’ and slick my hair down, even though she knew that as soon as we got there I would be in the pool… why fight me on this… but I was never allowed to question her, or, y’know, try and fight her with, oh I don’t know, LOGIC, so instead I would just crack the shits and just stay silent. She was the sort of person I would enjoy intentionally pissing off, because she was so used to everybody else doing whatever she said. Fuck. That.
But, like I said, my last one of those was so long ago, I don’t remember how old I was. Ever since, it was back to Xmas eve with mum and my brother, and depending on the year, and where we were, we might have some relatives there, or I might have had my best friend over. It was so simple, and low key, and stress-free. It was perfect.
Since meeting Hulk, I’ve been re-introduced to the big ‘family’ Christmas Day. Sometimes it even included Christmas Breakfast / Brunch at one of his Aunties places, before going to his other Aunties place for the massive family lunch and dinner. All I know, is that every year we’ve been together, I’ve literally rolled out of his aunty’s place feeling like I’m dying – probably from having spent the day eating my entire body-weight in food.
But the difference is, I actually like those Christmas lunches. We’ve become quite the foodies, so we’re always hanging around the kitchen as soon as we get there, helping out (or sometimes, just taking over!), but we enjoy it… I love his Aunty C. She’s such an awesome lady.
2014 was the first year I didn’t get to celebrate Christmas with mum. And I was quite surprised as to how deeply it affected me. I was so angry and aggressive during the couple of days leading up to it. I wanted nothing to do with it… but it just made me realise how much importance I place on such a simple ‘tradition’. Let’s just say it’ll be the first and last time that we’re separated on Christmas.