I always feel obliged to preface that statement with ‘I’m sorry but’ so the title should actually read ‘I’m sorry but I don’t do Christmas’. I don’t do Bayram or Hanukkah or any other religious celebration either.
People look at me in amazement when they ask if I’m ready for Christmas and I respond by saying that I don’t do Christmas. They do not know what to say next and do not know where to look. What’s so amazing? I am not religious or materialistic and I am the mother of a dead daughter so Christmas holds little value to me.
I do like the idea of family getting together and sharing a meal but that should be done whenever you want not only at Christmas time. It can be very stressful if your family is like mine, somewhat dysfunctional, and you feel as though you are forced into a family lunch for the sake of Christmas.
I did try hard to be interested in Christmas when my children were little. I would get a eucalyptus sapling from my parents’ farm and we would decorate it with mostly decorations that Clea had made (my sons were not old enough). I did promise Clea a fake tree for Christmas 2009 but as she wasn’t there, I was not capable of living up to that promise. And I am not capable of making any effort now either. My sons do not ask about Christmas trees or decorations. Although they did make some interesting pieces in Christmas craft at school – one in particular looks more like an evil elf than a Christmas decoration. It hangs on the front door to scare away visitors.
My parents did not make a big deal out of Christmas. I did believe in Santa Claus for sometime because I couldn’t believe that my parents could afford to buy us any presents – they were not particularly wealthy and there were five children. The presents were not considered to be the most important part of Christmas. My husband and I have never exchanged presents at Christmas or birthdays and we have never insisted that our children buy presents for each other or for their parents.
My father would cut down a eucalyptus sapling to use as our Christmas tree. There was an ancient green fake tree once but it didn’t stand the test of time. I remember the smell of eucalyptus wafting through the house in the midst of a hot, windy summer.
I am proud to say that when I asked my sons what they wanted for Christmas, one said that he didn’t want any ‘crap’ toys and the other said that he could not think of anything that he wanted. Eventually, they decided that they would like some comics – easy done.
They happily bought chickens and eggs, pencils, mosquito nets and fast growing seeds from the World Vision catalogue because they felt that they were buying worthwhile and valued presents for people who needed them.
I was interested to hear that some devout Christians do not celebrate Christmas either; they see it as a pagan celebration, which it is. Christmas was originally a pagan celebration of mid-winter but then the Christians took it over to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and now the capitalists have taken it over to celebrate the profit and loss statement that is the holiday season. It now boils down to how much money you can make and how many presents you get that you have to return. Maybe it was always like that, I do not know.
Call me a Scrooge or humbug, I don’t care (someone at work did stand up for me and say that it is more about love and kindness than the number of presents). Maybe I am a parasite on a market driven society. I definitely do not pull my weight when it comes to buying and selling in the market place, especially at this time of the year. Maybe I am a rebel who will not be pushed into buying presents when advertising tells me to. I think my children have always known that they are loved and cared for without a long list of presents they neither want nor need.
We do have little traditions of our own making. I make shortbread. My husband is a great cook so he takes care in deciding the menu for the various meals including noche buena (Christmas Eve) which is of particular importance to him.
This Christmas, my sons will get a few books, comics, Lego and chocolate coins. I won’t wrap them but I will use the Santa pillow cases I made for them when they were little. We will take Clea’s chocolate coins to the cemetery to wish her a merry Christmas. My mother will join us for lunch. My sister and her family will have lunch with us two days prior to Christmas. And I will catch up with the other members of my family in January sometime.
It will be a difficult week with the 10 year anniversary of the Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami (and no, that is not the tsunami that we were in) which killed more than 250,000 people. We will be avoiding television coverage of that and of the 40th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy in Darwin.
Tomorrow it will be 273 weeks since Clea died. Christmas is a particularly hard time of year for us. After Christmas, there is New Year, and then Clea’s will be 12.
I so wish that Clea was here to sneer at me about Christmas and to call me a Scrooge for not buying her an iPad mini for Christmas. Nothing is ever the same.
Clea definitely loved Christmas. And if she was here, I might just ‘do’ Christmas. But I can’t, not without her.