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.