Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pros and Cons of Xmas.

As I write this, the household is slumbering.  Sofia in her big girl's cot (she's 5 months; we moved her out of her bassinet a fortnight ago) and Mark, the tired dad, in our bed where I will join him 'soon' - after I have snatched my internet time, which I get these days in the manner of a drowning person thrusting their heads briefly above the surface.  Not to suggest I am drowning or that parenthood is in any way like drowning.... but the hours do seem to drain away as if I'm living in a strange sort of invisible whirlpool.

Perhaps other parents will recognise this feeling? I really do not know where all the time goes these days.  Every day I get up, do some breastfeeds, nappy changes, grab some food for myself and maybe a shower, gurgle at the baby to make her laugh.... and then it's already 5 pm and I haven't made that phone call I was going to make, or gone to the bank or whatever. Weird. It's like I'm the Time Lord but in reverse or something.

Anyway, I was going to explain why I don't like Xmas, but found my arguments unravelling in the process of construction. 
Here is a list of the things I like:
The special food and that stretched-belly feeling after too much turkey and chocolate.
Designing handmade cards (see above for this year's effort).
Singing old fashioned Xmas carols.
Smelling Xmas trees, even though I'd never buy a dying pine for my own lounge.
Getting excited about Xmas.
Watching others get excited about Xmas.
Xmas mass (occasionally).
Seeing family.

Here is a list of the things I don't like:
Xmas carols on repeat in malls.
Drunk or recently drunk Australians wearing ties with "Kiss me, I'm Santa" and/or flashing Xmas tree earrings. Especially when they are hospital staff at work.
Electronic life-size singing Santas with zombie bobbing heads (I once saw one in a children's ward without a head).
All those presents you 'must give' or 'must receive'.
Advertising that tries to play on people's guilt (what your kid will miss out on if you don't buy him/her X).
Seeing family.

I was assuming my list of 'don't likes' would be longer, but they pretty much balance each other out.  I have a confession to make: for many years I used to deliberately volunteer to work over Xmas, mostly because then I'd miss out on all the present-giving (but be able to catch up on the gluttony with the leftovers the next day.)  Unfortunately my in-laws are one of those families who do focus on the presents and the unwrapping, so that's what I've endured today, along with the gluttony and the lying around telling family stories, which I rather enjoy.

At least they don't make the poor kids do 'items' for an Xmas concert as my Hong Kong family used to do - being made to perform in front of grown ups loses its coolness after about the age of 2, but somehow the adults don't seem to realise this. ("Oh go on sing that cute song/do that little item/play the piano," they coo, then talk all the way through your blushing and self conscious performance. Oh, the scars.)

Anyway, now with a baby, Xmas takes on a new meaning. She's of an age where she doesn't, thankfully, understand that most confusing of constructions, Santa, or care about presents.  She likes to look at the summer flowers in rain. She's fascinated by the flashing lights on the Xmas tree, and the bright baubles she reaches her hand out for. The best part of a present is the wrapping paper. There's new food to taste and textures to feel, everyone around her is just a bit more manic, and she doesn't mind wearing a silly hat so long as she occasionally gets to close her eyes and get away from it all.  It's not so much wonder as a building of yet more experience.  And so, through her, I get to experience Xmas a different way. I think this way is OK.