Saturday, December 20, 2008

My love-hate relationship with Christmas


I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Christmas. I can get quite caught up in the fantasy of it all (which strangely enough seems to involve a vague vision of snow and candelight and open fires, which for an Australian really is a fantasy) and at the same time look around me and feel sick about the consumer frenzy Christmas has become--shops with signs saying "five days left to shop!" in the window, malls with competing Christmas ditties from each shop mingling into one hellish cocophany that seems to induce zombie-like behaviour... I can't tell you how many times this week I've been standing in queues surrounded by mothers with trolleys piled high with plastic crap you know is headed for landfill before you can say "Easter". One rolled her eyes at me, saying: "I only came in to buy a couple of things" before turning to the teller to ask what the damage is. Today, another told me she had five kids who keep changing their minds about what they're into, so she just keeps the receipts and returns the goods when the novelty wears off!
I can also feel strangely alone at Christmas. Not in any great, existential sense, so much as as in that: "I thought we were a team but why is it only me who seems to be running herself ragged trying to think up/buy the perfect gift for every distant relative (including yours); wrap/send said gifts; work out which friend I can dump the kids with because kinder/school close their doors two days before work does; crawl around the attic looking for that dusty bag of Chrissy decorations; try to fit in a leg wax in case I might make it to the beach one of these days?!" Yes, I'm starting to think Christmas is a feminist issue!
And then this morning we went for a coffee at our local, me heading out first with the kids, my partner to catch up. As I optimistically tried to pen some final cards, the kids tipped sugar on the table, raided the drinks fridge and assailed the waitress with their extensive Christmas wish list as she glanced desperately at the impending rush of customers making their way through the door. Twenty minutes in I rang my partner, muttering through gritted teeth: "Where are you?! You said you were coming straight away! Freya's stroppy, I've got stupid amounts of shopping to do and your coffee's getting cold!" before hanging up on him. When he arrived and told me he had just been waiting for my present to be delivered: "I was trying to be a bit surreptitious about it." I sat there, trying to pull my head in and yet stubbornly holding on to my anger, just like one of my kids might do. Later I came home to a fabulous new bike (early because we're going away tomorrow). Dear me, how humbling--and how exhilarating! I went for a ride around the block and felt so much better.
Now, presents sent and food sorted, I feel like I can get back to what Christmas can, at its best, be--a chance to slow down (eventually) and to be reminded that you are surrounded by people that you adore and who love you back, and who are all doing their best. (Though I am seriously pushing for a Kris Kringle option next year, and vowing to get better at not taking it all on!)
New Year's resolutions anyone? I wonder, after giving up vices and vowing to exercise more, what percentage of resolutions relate to getting more literary? Personally, I am pledging to get up at 5.30am every morning to write in 2009. Well, I've locked myself in now I've told you all. Might see you in the morning, come January 1...
Till then, hope it's a good one and that someone spoils you rotten (in a good way!).

4 comments:

katiecrackernuts said...

Ah, one of the benefits of my family is that we've both taken on the Christmas stuff. Actually I think I've been a bit of slacker this year, though, that's fair. I've done lots in years past. Actually we've got a bit of a routine going and the last things to do are get up early Christmas Eve and do the Christmas shop and the fresh foods shop. I actually thought the fridge looked a bit light on this morning so I might be able to fit some bits and pieces in tonight. More shortbread baking was done while I was away seeing my folks and very pregnant sister on the weekend and I have another batch of gingerbread to make tonight. I do hope you get a minute to breathe and enjoy the absolute surprise and joy on your darlings' faces Christmas morning. Ride that bike Chrissie Day - if you're taking it with - and yes, see you early in the mornings. I usually post between 5.45am and 6.15am. A ha, nods of understanding all 'round.

little red hen said...

Chirtmas has snuck up on me this year, well the last couple actually. Though how I missed it I don't know with every shop decked out some time in october! I used to have everything bought and wrapped by the end of November! I was listening to the news one evening and they were asking people to leave their children at home because they irritate other shoppers and that leads to shopping rage....What!!!???? I could not believe my ears. You are right as a community we have completely lost sight of what is important.
Good luck with the new year's resolution. The only one I've ever managed to keep was not to have any resolutions.

Linda said...

hi Rachel I have just found your blog and sooo happy I have! I have been after your book for a while our library didn't have it to my horror so after the expense of our frugal but non affordable xmas dies down I will buy it! I can relate to this post I have a love/hate thing with xmas too. Can't wait to read more of your posts. A long time ago I read a bok by Davida Allen and loved it and I am so happy to find more on the subject of motherhood and art, thank you

Rachel Power said...

Hey there Linda, thanks for your comment. I look forward to hearing what you think of The Divided Heart. (And I know what you mean about the Christmas wipe-out, finance-wise. Sheesh! I have a terrible time holding back because I get so caught up in wanting to buy the perfect gift for everyone, then wonder if those who just produce a small token offering are onto something far more sensible?!)
Davida Allen is a hoot! She's so brutally honest and just spills her guts and her heart onto her canvas in such a raw and energetic way. She's a real inspiration in the way that she makes art about whatever's going on in her life, just processing the everyday events she's mired in. I so enjoyed talking to her. I just took a look at your profile. I love that there's a book out there called 'It's My Party and I'll Knit if I Want To'. That could be the slogan for so many of my friends! I used to knit as an excuse for watching television--but now I struggle to find time for either (and we've ditched the tele anyway). Looking forward to checking out your sites...