A long time ago, when I was less than half the age I am now, I spent a cold, dark, lonely and somewhat bewildering Christmas in Ireland with my then crazy boyfriend, his family and neighbours. Only they didn't refer to it as Christmas so much as "the Christmas" which seemed to encompass both the nativity and a range of festivities spanning the Christmas period. And I guess that I've started thinking about it like that too. Because it's a big responsibility when you're mum and most of the social calendar arranging, present buying, childcare gift baking, family negotiating, task planning and the Father Christmas delivery falls to you. Maybe I'd have an easier time of it if I let go a bit more, but truth is I care about it more (or in a different, somewhat more obsessive way) than G, so I don't. Simplicity eludes me. Perhaps that's just something I need to accept.
Nonetheless. It was all pretty good on the day. Some people, who shall not be mentioned, drunk a little too much on Christmas Eve and I worried the day would be a complete write off but we all got up at eight with nary a hangover in sight and had breakfast before opening presents in the lounge room. I'm mean and make Grace wait because there's no way she's eating Christmas chocolate on an empty stomach and besides, being an only child, we're the only company she has for this little ritual. So far she's OK with waiting. And it is one of my favourite parts of the day. This year, Grace took her time and examined each gift, sometimes having a little play before moving on to the next.
We suggested she open the pillow case from Father Christmas first and it was filled with a mixture of useful things and stuff she'd like - fuzzy felt and Dora the Explorer hair clips and bracelet (I know Santa sold out, but that bracelet, she adores it). Then we did the family gift exchange. And yes, she loved the doll and her clothes. She even loved that I'd made then all her. Which was very pleasing indeed. She wasn't so thrilled with the bongo drum from G but I think once she sees it in action and realises that it is a pirate drum, she'll change her mind. And the DVDs hit the spot. She sure loves a DVD, that girl. Grace and I bought G a CD he really wanted and I bought him a record which is a beautiful object, but I'm not sure how much he likes it yet. I received an interesting looking book and the new Angie Hart CD which I really rather like (yes, I was a closet Frente! fan back in the day). Grace also received heaps of Lego from the extended family - fun, fun, fun. I'm even getting good at it. Oh, and G got a rather special and unexpected gift from my Dad, too.
After presents in the morning, I finished off my cooking for lunch, including a very ordinary bean salad, an onion tart that didn't live up to expectations and some hand made after dinner mints that were freakishly good despite containing raw egg white and dodgy chocolate. I also took some White Christmas, so that we could all have our seasonal fill of bad fats. Christmas lunch was very pleasant. Oysters slipped down (yum, I love oysters and should definitely eat them more often). Grace tried a prawn. The chicken was delicious, the potatoes crispy, the pudding came out of the bowl in one easy motion and Nina had bought this non-alcoholic ginger apple drink that was utterly gorgeous. People seemed to like this years family calendar and the afternoon seemed very adult and smooth (except for the frenzy of Grace unwrapping her presents) and towards the end, I realised just how much I missed Betty and her family. A bit more chaos and child energy would have been a good thing. Somehow the lack of all that made things feel not quite right to me. And that feeling grew as a nameless, shapeless thing all day. Once I knew what it was, I could do something and so we all skyped (which had kind of been the plan anyway) and suddenly things felt a lot, lot better.
And on boxing day I slept until 12. And kept on relaxing after that. Because I quite like the bit when the Christmas is all done and dusted for the year and I can put my feet up, eat left overs and dip into the shortbread and Christmas cake from mum. Oh yes, indeed.