Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Traditions

Another Christmas done and dusted.
I've just finished packing away the tree, carefully storing away ornaments, branches and all the other bits and bobs involved.

I love decorating the tree. When I was a kid it was the most wonderful thing to open the box of Christmas. It had a little wooden nativity set, decorations and a smell. The Christmas smell. To this day I'm not sure what the smell was but I know when we opened that box I would be flooded with joy. Christmas! In Alice Springs we used to buy our REAL Christmas tree from Kmart. Oh how I loved the process of selecting a tree and inhaling that pine fresh smell. We would take it home, stick it in a bucket and decorate it, listening to Boney M carols and feeling that all was right with the world.
Then of course my dear Dad went and died early one Christmas morning. From then on, Christmas was greeted with dread, not joy. My Mum in particular found it terribly hard, the carols, the well wishes, the memories. We would just endure it and be glad when it was all over.
I can't remember when it was that I re-opened that box of Christmas, I think it was some years later. I was an angsty teen, trying hard not to care, self pity flowing through my veins. But when I opened that box and smelt that smell, of so much joy and happy memories, when I saw that precious nativity set, I felt love, not pain. I felt happy to have the memories. Sometimes remembering the good stuff is harder than the bad stuff, sometimes it hurts more to remember the love. But that smell reminded me of too much happiness, so I was never going to be miserable about Christmas again.
You know the rest. My magnificent children came along and healed me up, at least where Christmas is concerned. Now it's a time for family, food and presents! They look forward to it as much as I ever did. I felt so privileged today, packing away that tree, remembering all this (so much so I had to write it whilst it was fresh!). Grateful for making these memories now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


We are going away for 12 days this festive season.
Months ago we started to wonder who we could get to look after the house and dog. Our previous housesitter had selfishly gone and become a homeowner so she was no good to us.
Someone I know had housesit for a friend of mine and I totally got the vibe that he spent some serious time sniffing around her private affairs. Searching bedside drawers for vibrators, reading through personal notebooks, looking for porn on her browser history. So I knew I wouldn't be asking him to stay. Oh the notebooks he could read! We needed a responsible stranger of mature years to mind our lovely home and dog.
Miraculously easily we found them! A husband & wife on the mindahome.com website. I was able to check them out (totally legit & 'normal') through their references via airbnb and the only thing I was really concerned about was how they would cope in my tidy, but not particularly clean, home.
Honestly if I could change one thing about myself it would be that rather than eating when I feel stressed instead I would clean.
Our home is by no means dirty, it's just a bit dusty and smudgy. The floors are maintained but goddamn it you do know if you clean one area of a wall you then need to clean ALL the walls in that room because it looks just as bad with one clean area as it does one dirty spot.
Anyway I became aware of how many areas needed to be clean in order for me to comfortably allow these strangers to stay in my home free of charge for 12 days. Fucking ridiculous.
Kitchen drawers. Cupboards. The pantry. The fridge (17 dead flies. 17!? How did they get in there? When? Who let them in? Fuck!). The cupboard above the pantry that actually had cleaning products in that expired in 2012. Along with a few more dead flies. And heaps of dust. So much dust.
I hired 2 lovely Irish girls to help me clean for 2 hours ($100 - money well spent!) the day before the housesitters arrived. What a genius idea that was. My house is just lovely. It always was, but now it's lovely without being dusty.
The housesitters arrived today, they are delightful (semi-retired, here to visit grandchildren, easygoing) and I am so pleased to be leaving them in my wonderful, clean home. We are going to have a lovely Christmas break and I look forward to returning to our deliciously clean and tidy (for now) home.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Secret Santa

Here's something I wasn't exactly prepared for.
Yesterday morning, as his sister ate breakfast alongside him, Leo nonchalantly said 'Mum, is Santa real?'.
There was an awkward pause whilst a low hum of static blew through my mind. Eventually I said 'well mate I believe in him'.
He looked at me inquisitively - 'a kid at school said it's just your mum and dad that do it'.
I managed to change the subject but later pulled Leo aside and said - 'mate - if you want to talk about any of that stuff make sure Mags isn't around to hear it - ok?'.
Ok. Great job so far Mum.
I mean, he's 9.5 years old. He's ready to know the truth. I'm just uncomfortable admitting to him that we've been feeding him bullshit for his whole life. Lovely, magical, present-inducing....bullshit.
Later that day after Mags is in bed I walk out to our lounge room. Josh & Leo are sitting together deep in conversation. Luckily I'd given Josh a head's up earlier and as he's never been particularly delighted with the whole Santa Lie, was more than ready to talk it through with his eldest child.
Leo looks at me, his eyes filled with a kind of bewilderment, a bit wounded, slightly shocked. 'Santa isn't true' he says.
I will honestly never forget his face in that moment. My child has grown up. I am so pleased, but heartbroken as well. I'm sure 9.5 is a good age to find this out. We sat and had an honest and funny conversation about the whole thing. He confessed to having his suspicions, for not only did he see some wrapping paper last year that looked exactly like santas, but he also thought the idea of flying reindeer was ridiculous.
Not quite as ridiculous as a rabbit that hands out chocolate to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus so we discussed both that and the tooth fairy. He is now in possession of very important truths that he must uphold - by lying to the people around him that don't yet know the truth.
What a complex web we've woven.
So tonight we are all sitting on the couch and little Mags, who is only 5, says 'Mum- is Santa real?' and I say - 'Well who's that on the tv mate? Looks like the real santa to me' (This week Elf starring Will Ferrell has been on the tv twice and we have watched it both times. I had never seen it before, but it has established itself as one of my all time favourite christmas movies ever. Hilarious. Poignant. Perfection.). Leo quickly pipes up to his sister, legitimately and almost truthfully - 'yeah! Of course he is Maggie'. And even I believe him.