MUM. THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES
I’ll be the first to admit that my siblings and I were spoilt as children, and nowhere was that more obvious than in the lucrative haul of material goods we came to refer to as ‘Christmas’.
Perhaps it was to compensate for my parents’ own threadbare childhoods, or pity for the fact that none of their children seemed to have any friends. Regardless, every year the living room seceded more ground to the tidal wave of presents spilling out from beneath the tree.
Christmas was somewhat of a celebration in our house.
We followed roughly the same format each year. Charlotte, Toby and I would sort of roll from our beds at the crack of 11am (being neither lithe enough to properly trampoline forth like most children, nor what you’d really call a ‘morning’ family) and inspect the stockings that Santa had filled in the night.
Joke books, puzzles and plastic hippos full of chocolate eggs (we didn’t like to discriminate between the religious holidays) would fling across our beds. It goes without saying that the chocolates were half gobbled by the time we’d pulled on our generously elasticated underpants.
Together, we’d sort of hobble-race downstairs to glance at the ocean of reindeer coated boxes that would invariably be awaiting us, our mouths forming a gobsmacked ‘o’ at the sight of all that bounty. All those My Little Ponies, I’d whisper to myself, just waiting to be unveiled.
While my mother bustled about upstairs with her lipstick and other fancy lady affairs, my father would be putting the finishing touches to the homemade sausage rolls while we tried to convince him to let us open something. Just one present! we would beg. Please! We can’t stand it ANY LONGER! Our hearts would race, palms sweating. We were three anxious children being driven mad, the haunting sirens’ song of the concealed treasure taunting us in our frilly dresses and little bow ties.
Our father would acquiesce, and we’d thunder off to choose something small to tide us over. Pretty presents, we’d whisper. We love you.
Eventually, my mother would join us and we’d gather round the tree as my father played Santa. Crawling beneath its drooping branches, he’d allocate gifts to each of us and we’d ferociously rip into them like hungry pigs at a trough feed. Later, we’d channel those same pigs around the dining table as we tore into the turkey, popped crackers with one another and mainlined soft drink by the gallon.
The sugar gave us the energy to participate in the family parlour games that always followed lunch: charades, cards and dysfunctional shouting matches.
The magic of Christmas was strong with us.
As we grew into adulthood, the presents retreated into the past. We had no need for sacks of treasure; at the end of the day, it’s all plastic crap that gets discarded within a few weeks and is left to gather dust. But we grew into ourselves. The soft drink gave way to wine, the lunches to dignified affairs punctuated by laughter, poetry and story telling. The parlour games remained, with the occasional shouting match thrown in. We’re a family, after all.
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