Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Post Mortem

At Christmas time, I wish I had a family who did things like this and this and this.

As a not so young mother, I spent many Christmases making ornaments and baking presents. I tried to involve the Baby Angel in this, but she's not much of a crafter and to be honest, was one of the few kids who didn't really enjoy cooking with mother! But when times were tight we painted coathangers for the family and I was able to utilise her drawings on Christmas cards (those were the days....when did I last send a Christmas card?). At all times I tried to teach her that Christmas was about thinking of others, making an effort, going that extra mile to find or make something that would bring a smile to their faces. In the manner of my own parents, I have never given money as a Christmas present.

All of this is why it is so difficult living in a step family where the traditions and values of the Christmas season exist at just about the opposite end of the spectrum to my own. I know I have banged on about this before so I won't repeat my rant, except to say that for the first time I experienced the BA's resentment at having to watch the others flaunt wads of cash when she had 'only' received gifts.
The Strange Scottish Girl ; who lifted our hearts, bringing a real feeling of Christmas into the house as she traveled back from Melbourne to be with us; held my hand and embraced me with encouragement and the reminder that the BA is a terrible teen with all that this entails; but that essentially she is good and will come back to the heart of things eventually.

She's right of course. I know this because of the gifts the BA bought for the boys. She had scowled around the shopping centre complaining vehemently that she didn't know what the older boys wanted (because they rarely communicate with us, apart from the occasional grunt, pseudo political rant or argument about doing dishes) and expressing resentment at buying them meaningless rubbish which they probably wouldn't appreciate. Instead, she proclaimed, she was thinking of buying them something from the TEAR catalogue, or from World Vision. And so she did.

I know I heard Himself exclaim in delight when he opened his 'School Supplies' gift. I'm not sure if the 'Water Sterilisation Kit' and 'Mozzie Net' got the same response from the older boys.

But I've got to hang onto the thought that she 'gets' the Christmas giving idea. Even if, for now, her own empty purse is her focus.

On a happier note, this year we actually got to play Christmas games! As a family!! (well except for Himself of course, who loathes games....unless he is guaranteed to win) I attribute this achievement solely to the SSG who brought a metaphorical whiff of Holly and Mistletoe to the house. The older boys may have mocked my Christmas music, lighted candles and strained efforts in the kitchen, but the SSG appreciated every last Northern European nuance. We played a new game called 'Get It Wrong To Win' which lured No 2 Son out of his 'Pit' to socialise.

Once we had him there, SSG worked her magic and, despite his loud protestations of ineptitude, convinced him to have a crack at charades! His rendition of 'Sonic the Hedgehog', complete with somersaults across the lounge room (!) were a complete delight. The SSG even had an impact on Christmas lunch as she prepared the gravy and cheese sauce and set the table with candles and glitter.
Which reminds me, glitter is a pretty powerful way to train a hungry young man to take care when transferring food from serving dish to his plate on the table! We have been on him for years about trying to be less messy at the table. Maybe this will work??

Don't know if you can see that but it's a glitter encrusted piece of turkey!

Christmas has other faces too. The family drama often rears its ugly head at Christmas time. We have come to realise that No 1 Son, whom we thought was doing ok, is in fact in the grip of a terrible addiction. His presence with us on Christmas morning left everyone feeling incredibly uncomfortable and worried and it was only later, after he took offence at something a stranger said to him at his Nanna's place at Christmas lunch and drove off at high speed (and with high levels of alcohol in his blood) that we were able to discuss the elephant in the room, as a family. Fortunately he made it home without hurting himself or anyone else, but he was scheduled to accompany Himself, Small Boy and No 2 Son on their annual trip interstate to sail in the Nationals. Of course he wasn't there at 4.15am when they were all set to go and when he did arrive he had brought waaay more than the small overnight bag he had been told to pack. There was much stomping around and culling of gear and then they were off, in the most obvious Travelling Disaster Show I have ever seen leave these premises (and there have been a few).

Yesterday Himself called to say they had experienced an awful night with him and after seeing the cramped and second rate accommodation in Sydney, they all knew it just wasn't going to work. Himself drove him 3 hours back down the road to Canberra and delivered him into his mother's arms. But not before she had phoned twice on route to change her mind and say she didn't want to take him.

I feel concerned for the combination of No 1 Son and his mother, but I also think Himself needed to protect the two younger boys. I am sure the whole situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

So back to Christmas!!

After a lovely time with the SSG and a Free Family on Boxing Day, we were again up in the wee small hours to take her up to a small town in the Adelaide Hills, to meet her 'ride'.

This is what all well dressed travellers wear at 5am.

The BA wasn't going to come with us, but she suddenly got an attack of the sentimentals and hopped into the car in her PJs and with her two fave 'cuddle rugs' (yes, still, at 16). Once we reached our destination she was thirsty and hungry and decided to check out the main street to see if there were any service stations open and serving. Needless to say there weren't.

And so her ride arrived and we farewelled that Strange Scottish Girl,

grateful for the 'great joy' she had brought us in our strange and dysfunctional family.

I gotta say, you meet some of the nicest people over the internet.

Season's Greetings one and all. Wishing you an upcoming Happy and prosperous New Year.


The Honourable Husband said...

A belated, but heartfelt, Merry Christmas to you, the Baby Angel and the crew.

Och, and that wee Strange Scottish Girl! She never comments on my blog any more, and I miss her. Love to her, too, as well as the Free Family.

A quiet moment or two while the boys are away? It's about time we caughtup for a wee chat, via that telephone gadget. Drop me line with a good time to call.

chaoticfamily said...

Looks like a lovely Christmas all around...

Socks and sandals - lol - flip flops none the less. Quite fashionable! ;P

Arizaphale said...

Erinne: I KNOW! And she is usually so stylish hahahahaha.

Stacy said...

Yes, belated Merry Christmas from me, too. I tend to steer clear of the computer as much as possible during my break.

So glad you had SSG to add to the Christmas cheer in the house. We are also trying to instill a bit of the holiday season and reason for the holiday into the kids. Wish it were easier, though. To them it is all about the gifts, but they are young yet. It doesn't help that they get SO MANY gifts.

Sorry to hear about No. 1 son and the problems therein. Does not sound like a good situation. :(

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Oh dear dear dear...both posts, this one and the link to the older post. It's strange how holidays can be so wonderful and so heart wrenchingly difficult all at the same time. I guess it's easier with BA only having step brothers, so at least the gifts are going to be different anyway.

We were sort of lucky this year, bec. older gal went to visit her mom. Younger gal & my boy were with their dad for the first time during a lot of Hannukah. So although we missed out on the togetherness part we usually have, the gift opening part was haphazard and there quite as much opportunity for comparison as usual. The-Guy & I are lucky to be about on the same page with that - more on your page I think. Or maybe I've swayed him your way over the years.

And I think we do an okay job of balancing out between the three of them. Although it ends up that older gal's big present is always the airplane ticket to her mom's. But then again, she'll be 24 next month...

Where was I?!? Oh yeah, on the older post, at least Himself can articulate why he feels the way he does and he understands your reasoning and why he feels he needs to do things his way. It's not ideal, but at least he's self aware and perhaps at some point that will help.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Oh and last but not least, I think sometimes you just strike out on the gifts no matter what your philosophy or lack thereof. The-Guy's biggest present is still sitting in the box on the kitchen counter.

Plus, it was a really sweet comment she left you on the older post. That was worth a whole holiday in itself. :-)