Boxing Day Schmoxing Day

Normally I’d run screaming from the Boxing Day stores, but the guys all decided that now we have let a Wii in the house we NEED more Wii ‘stuff’.  This stupid thing comes with more accessories than a Malibu Barbie!  With prices to match!  I hate to think exactly how much has been spent on it.  NO WAIT… hang on – why don’t we add it up just for shits and giggles  🙂

Wii console – $399.00
(One remote, nunchuck and Mario Party 8 included)
Console Stand and rechargeables – $29.95
Wii Fit thingy – $127.00
Wii Fit recharger station – $19.91
Wii Play – $79.95
Three more remotes (approx $75 each) – $225.00
Mario Kart game w~steering wheel –  $79.00
Extra Mario Kart Wheel – $19.00
Two Extra Nunchucks – $48.00
Zelda and the Fucking Twilight Princess – $68.99
Zelda Sword & Shield thingys – $22.95
Mario Galaxy – $79.92
Super Smash Brothers – $79.92

Hmmm… have I forgotten anything? Don’t think so.. (please hold while I find the calculator thingy)…. $1278.59 !!!!   FARK!!!   The only redeeming element of this is that some of the bits were gifts from other people so we didn’t quite pay for ALL of it ourselves.  But holy shit!  No more!  After racing around the shops buying stuff that wasn’t really at sale prices anyway, we naturally came home and the guys spend most of the remains of the day playing Mario Kart etc. 

The expression on the Small Child’s face when they opened it was priceless…
… and not dissimilar to mine a few moments ago when I tallied up the damage!

Come dusk we had friends over for OYSTERS KILPATRICK!!!  Yum!  I love my oysters and lining up stupid early to get some good fresh seafood was well worth it.  Years ago when I was just an impressionable teenager I dated a guy whose father was a five star chef and he passed on his uber-fantastic Oysters Kilpatrick recipe and I make them about once a year en masse (only 5 doz last night).  Only problem with being able to make nice Oysters Kilpatrick is that if I ever order them when I’m out they’re invariably disappointing.  So last nights oysters were absolutely delicious if I do say so myself.  🙂

After that… many ciders… more Mario Kart then finally bed….. my stupid back was absolutely screaming at me after such a long busy day so extra valium for me.  I know, I know… Valium + Alcamahol is a little dodgy but what do you do?

Yesterday… seems so far away.


So after yesterday’s drama I was totally not expecting to have a very good day with the family today.  Everyone was pissed off and tense over the phone yesterday and I couldn’t foresee any way in which everyone would be able to put their crap behind them so rapidly as to be even civil to one another.

But I think I totally underestimated everyone’s desire to at least make a pretense of playing happy families…. because they all arrived at 0700 and once coffees and some yummies were dispensed, the gifts started to roll out (in a sedate and orderly, one by one fashion :S) and all seemed well with the world.  Gift deployment started at 0730 and took until approximately 1030 by which time I had already buggered off to start lunch (thankfully my Mum was here to help with the food side of things).

Amazingly we had an ok morning, each of the kids scored more Christmas presents in one sitting than I had been given in my entire childhood (as they seem to every year, spoilt brats – the Small Child included).  They were very excited, huge smiles and expressions of surprise over the piles and piles of cool stuff.  House Azerbaijan has caught up to the 21st century and is now in the not so elite Wii club complete with Zelda and the Twilight Princess of  recent shopping disaster fame so everyone seems very happy with their wash.  Honestly there was more stuff flying around than you could poke a stick at which again has me rolling my eyes about the waste of it all.

Lunch was fun… roast lamb, scalloped potatoes, fresh vegies, apple crumble, champagne, daggy Christmas crackers the whole shebang.   And all was well with the world.  Shrug.  Go figure.  😐

I have no idea if Mom-in-law had as great a day as appearances would indicate, or if she bitched all the way home about her Christmas rules not being followed to a tee and was underneath it all maintaining the rage over having her apple cart over turned.  Outwardly at least all was smiles and happiness.

So… yay for us.  Mission accomplished.  Christmas Day over without the necessity of calling in a criminal forensics team… much to my surprise.

(Now we can forget the whole thing again until next year…. sigh.)

If only Herod’s goons weren’t so bloody incompetent.

I’m sitting here shaking my head and having difficulty putting into words just how fucked up, fucked over and fucking over ‘it’, I am feeling this afternoon.  I am of course referring to the yearly tragedy that is Christmas with The Family.

It’s Christmas Eve.  We got up early, went to the seafood markets, hit the shops for some last minute food items and gifts (and much needed manicure).  I’ve got a bit more wrapping to do… so far so good…. we’ve got what I thought were firm plans to spend Christmas morning with Mr K’s family for the exchanging of thoughtful gifts, and then the sharing of a roast lunch with all the trimmings.  That is until we get a phone call from Mr K’s sister telling us that their Mom is going to the sister’s house at stupid o’clock in the morning to ‘exchange stocking gifts’ with her children.  Mr K’s sister, her husband and two kids, Mr K’s step-dad, his Gran and his Brother are all going to be there for that as well…. in fact everyone who is supposed to be coming for lunch except for us!  For some reason… Mr K, myself and the Small Child were not included.

His Mom had contacted him several weeks ago about spending Christmas at our place.  Yes she invited herself, it was her idea – which was fine with us as we had been inviting them to spend Christmas at our place for about 7 or 8 years now and every year our invitation was politely declined as his Mom ‘just wasn’t ready to have Christmas at someone else’s place yet’.  So I was actually kinda pleased that we were going to be having Christmas here and I’d be able to share some of my famliy Christmas traditions with them (like the big roast lunch – they always do cold meat and salads for Christmas lunch for some reason?!?).  Anyway it seems we have had a miscommunication of sorts – she didn’t want to do the whole Christmas morning thing with us really… just Christmas lunch.  So here’s me and Mr K sitting here feeling kinda like we’re the fucking caterers for this little soiree.    :S

I need to back up a minute…. last year we had Christmas with his family at his sister’s place.  We were told to be there at 9am and we arrived right on time but when we walked in the door it was immediately apparent that they’d already exchanged many gifts and there was present debris everywhere.  Mr K felt like we’d been deliberately excluded from the whole ‘Christmas thing’… I felt like a poor idiot cousin who’d been invited late to the dance… and luckily the Small Child didn’t notice anything amiss at all.  At the time I prodded Mr K to talk to his Mom about it and find out why we’d been ‘left out’…. but he didn’t.  Well now we know. 

Turns out that his Mom doesn’t like the ‘way we do Christmas’ though I’m not quite sure how she reached this conclusion as she’d never had Christmas at our place.  Christmas with my family was very different from theirs – my family never went overboard with little gifts for stockings and Christmas at our place was usually a bit of a frenzied free for all… presents being handed out by the youngest kids (I put photo labels on the parcels for the kids that can’t read yet) things being unwrapped at a rapid rate of knots, expressions of delight from the kids – it’s mad but it’s fun.  His Mom’s way of doing things is somewhat more sedate and (even after many years) is still rather alien to me.  One person at a time opens a gift and we all watch and ooh and ahh over what they got.  This was a fine tradition for a family of 5 who had no other people in the country to spend Christmas with… but now we are three families with each with small kids and given that there are already over 60 presents under our tree (and the other’s haven’t bought their things over yet) it will take all fucking day to open things one by one!  At some point during which I will have to excuse myself to go and cook everyone’s lunch!

Her solution to not wanting to do Christmas ‘our way’ (even though She invited herself to OUR home) was to go do it her way at his sister’s house at some ungodly hour before coming over.  So yeah…. maybe being hypersensitive and we’re overreacting.  Maybe we shouldn’t feel like we’re being deliberately excluded…  I don’t fucking know.  There has been umpteen number of phone calls back and forth between the Mom and the siblings to discuss what was supposed to be happening and attempts to solve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.  At one point Mr K cracked it and said “Fuck it!  I don’t want to spend Christmas with any of my family!  Lunch is cancelled!”  Then more phone calls and cajoling and compromising and it’s back on (for now) only instead of there being a 5am pressie rush for ‘them’ and then coming here at 9am… everyone is rocking up here at 7am to do things his Mom’s way.

To be brutally honest – the last thing I feel like doing is hosting his family here tomorrow and no… I don’t feel like cooking for them and moreover I have no idea how everyone is going to share pleasantries and pretend to be full of fucking Christmas spirit and cheer after the massive cluster fuck of crap that has been bubbling up all day today.

PS – this entire episode is a remarkable and timely demonstration of the shit that I was raving on about yesterday.

Let’s be naughty and save Santa the trip.

As some might have gathered… I’m not overly fond of the Christmas season.

My memories of Christmas as a child were mostly positive.  We usually had Christmas in Toowoomba with my Dad’s family – my Grandma and Poppa, my Aunty Penelope* and Uncle Phucker** plus their five kids.  We’d often stay up late watching The Sound of Music on TV on Christmas Eve (strange Toowoomba programming of the 70s – go figure) . My grandparents had a tacky silver foil Christmas tree with very old post-war Christmas ornaments and we’d have a big roast dinner cooked on Grandma’s wood stove even though it’d be 30 odd degrees in the shade.  The ‘other’ Cross kids used to get much flashier gifts than we did but I guess that was mostly because my Mum was always one for choosing more practical things.  The kids would usually spend the morning playing with any new toys while the Mums cooked and the Dads sat around shooting the breeze.  In the afternoons we kids would be occupied having watermelon seed spitting competitions and basically running amok while the adults cleaned up or had an afternoon kip.  So most of my childhood Christmas memories were pretty good I guess.

present buying wasting money

As I’ve gotten older Christmas started to be a time of stress.  Mr K’s parents are separated so for the last decade we’ve been pulled in up to three different directions at Christmas time.  His Dad lives in Canada but often visits in our summer to avoid the Canadian winter so they’ve sometimes been here at Christmas and keen to spend Christmas with all of us given that they’ve come so far.  His Mum lives just across town but they have little other family in Australia so there’s a palpable sense of obligation to try and spend Christmas with them.  The seemingly innocuous ‘what are you doing for Christmas this year?’ questions start right about the same time the stores put out all their decorations at the end of September and I’m often keenly aware of a feeling of ‘trying to keep everyone happy’.

And of course I’ve gone from being a kid running around letting Christmas happen around them to often being given the job of playing the (sometimes reluctant) hostess with the mostess.  I could kid myself and say that it’s because people love my cooking or because they just enjoy hanging out with us but the truth is that it has more to do with our house having fully ducted air-conditioning and our very comfortable 10 seater dining table  :S

In more recent years we’ve had some pretty stressful situations to deal with at Christmas time.  One Christmas I ended up in hospital with a golden staph infection in my abdomen and was only discharged from hospital the day before Christmas.  Another year we were delivered the news of my father’s terminal MND diagnosis two days before Christmas which I don’t have to tell you does not make for a joyful and celebratory mood.  There was at least a couple of Christmases where we were convinced that it would be my Dad’s last… which again isn’t conducive to an enjoyable family reunion and then last year, we were very concerned for my Mum who was spending her first Christmas in nearly 40 years without my Dad (she wisely chose to run away and spent Christmas with her sister in WA).

All up I think any childhood fondness I had for Christmas has been largely overshadowed by the feelings of family obligations and the stress of recent unhappy associations.

If I could skip Christmas entirely I would.

Just when I think I’m almost in the clear…

In my first year of married life, I received about 50 or so Christmas cards from friends and family who wanted to send a card I presume to wish us and our new little family a happy holiday season.  I threw my hands up and went ‘EEK!!!’ and figured I had better get some Christmas cards to send back to people seeing that they’d been thoughtful enough to send one to me.

After Christmas… every single one of those cards went straight in the bin – admittedly a recycling bin, but staight in bin nonetheless.  And as I threw them away I thought “What a waste!” and I still think they are a waste.  Time, money, envelopes, postage, paper, printing… all of it ultimately wasted.  In my second year of married life, I received again about 50 odd Christmas cards – and I sent out NONE, choosing instead to email friends that had sent us well wishes to thank them for their card.

In my third year of married life there was noticably fewer cards…. fourth year – even fewer again… fifth year – even fewer again.  I realized the fewer I sent out the fewer I received (thankfully)…. and it continued to dwindle until last year when I received barely three Christmas cards!  What an achievement!   I felt that my small part in not propagating the unnecessary ritual of exchanging expensive and resource hungry cards every year to be considerable indeed.

In an age when I keep in touch with friends and family around the country and also around the world via email, MSN and via their blogs – do Christmas cards really serve any real purpose anymore???  My Mum used to send them out every year.  She had a list that she’d pull out every December of people ‘she HAD to send a card to’ and she always included inside a personalized handwritten letter telling everyone how the Cross Famliy had been that year.  This quaint method of keeping touch once a year seems to have become redundant in the age of technology when we know quite a lot of what our friends have been up to – with alarming frequency judging by some people’s Facebook habits!!!  🙂

So year after year my attempt to minimize the Christmas cards has been ever so slowly gaining momentum.  Over the weekend I was thinking that I might have pulled it off as the only Christmas card I had received this year was from Caloundra Suzuki wishing me and my family ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year of safe motoring in our new Suzuki!!!’ (I decided that promotional material of this nature doesn’t really count as a Christmas card so I was so far in the clear)…. and I thought “YES!!  I’ve finally done it !!!”

I’ve been carefully watching the mail box, dreading the annual invasion of Christmas cards… and here we made it all the way to December 22nd with none to report….  But there’s this saying about counting your chickens and I have this afternoon found two chickens in my mailbox.

Bugger.    Sigh… maybe next year will be the cardless Christmas I’m aiming for…

No more XMAS Christmas cards