December 29, 2015 by Dadinator
On the day after Christmas we did pretty much nothing. I took my son for a ride on his new bike down to the post office, but that was about it. So I walked maybe 700 metres. It was an effort. The kids spent too much time in front of screens, The Mamanator and I spent too much time laid up on couches and our kids spent a lot of time smooshed on top of us in various ways. It was a very pleasant Saturday actually.
We had resolved that Boxing Day would be quiet and lazy, and we stuck to that resolution well. The previous couple of days have been frenetic. In fact the previous couple of weeks have, as Christmas momentum built, peaked, crested and finally broke at the end of yesterday. There have been 2 separate trips to Melbourne, 4 lunches and/or dinners. Well 5 really, but we didn’t eat at the last one because too full, a station wagon full of presents and some very late nights.
But Christmas hasn’t just been about the travel and the food this year. See, I married a Christmas nerd. She wears that badge proudly. For The Mamanator Christmas has always been one of her favourite times of year. For me it hasn’t always been that way, but as parents now we are not so much in it for ourselves as for the kids, and I think we’ve done alright.
At our house Christmas has meant a bunch of things. And none of them are related to hire-purchase, lay-by or maxing out credit cards. Thank cripes for that. We’ve tried to keep the focus off presents (although with a 4-year-old, that’s a struggle, and one we haven’t always won), and on doing things together.
The Mamanator said she wanted to do something each day that was Christmas-y with the children in the lead up. Could be making something, could be a story, could be having them help prepare gifts, and the kids have gotten right into it. They have things from cards to wrapping paper to bon-bons (yes you can make your own bon-bons, there are kits).
Christmas has also meant cooking and making – we tend to make presents because it’s more special (and cheaper. A LOT cheaper). There’s been jam, fudge, Christmas cakes and home grown chocolate mint this year. The kids have even been involved, watering the plants (for the first two weeks, then they forgot) and labelling jam jars. This left the stickers on them going every which way while The Mamanator looked on and wrestled with her inner control freak. The Lad and Lass have made decorations for the tree, made Christmas cards (The Lass loves making them, because she loves drawing/smudging/squiggling – she’s only 2), assembled a flat-packed gingerbread house from IKEA and a bunch of other things.
We’ve also had some adventures. The Santa Tram in Bendigo, which was marvellous – The Lad had ball. I’ve never heard the sound of 15 under 5s yell “MERRY CHRISTMAS 60 times in 2 hours before. Once I got used to it, it was great.
There was a night of Christmas Light seeking. At times this devolved into the kids claiming sets of lights depending on who’s window-side they were on (it was very confusing when we went down a cul-de-sac).
And, of course, Christmas has meant a busy social calendar. Our local library had a kids screening of The Polar Express (which was great fun). Kinder, playgroup and Childcare both had Christmas parties. I had work functions as the school year wound up. We meant to go to local carols, but a combination of illness, exhaustion and rain kept us away from them.
Christmas has also meant close to 8 hours of driving – the one thing I’d change about it if I could. Next year we plan to host. We had a lot of family to see, see? 4 branches of our family – each of them we made it to dutifully. From Lithuanian Christmas Eve with 12 fish and vegetable courses and the wonderful tradition of the Christmas wafer, to the Macaroni Da Forno that my mother makes, to the traditional English lunch with my uncle (dad’s brother), it’s a whirlwind for us to survive.
But it was fantastic. Overwhelming at times, but fantastic. A chance to re-connect with family, a chance for our kids (who have a dearth of them) to meet “cousins”, and a chance for us all to enjoy ourselves together. A chance I’m glad we took. I’ll remember the smiles, the squeals and the laughs for longer than it takes for my children to become broody and moody teenagers, I hope.
We’re setting up Christmas for them now. We don’t want it to mean nothing, but we don’t want it to mean giant boxes, a shower of toys or too much stuff. We want it to be about doing things together, taking time to make things and seeing people. I hope we can hold out against the bombardment of marketing to which all our children will be subject too in the coming years.
And what did I get for Christmas?
I got time. With my wife. In a dark room….. With a few hundred other people watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it was a great night out. One of the best presents we’ve given each other.