Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas is almost here! I’ve been so busy pining for a holiday lately, that without me even realising it, it suddenly became December. And now there's only a week and a half left until Christmas.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I adore Christmas. It’s not a religious event for me. It’s not about the birth of Jesus, and it’s most certainly not about a fat man in a red suit sneaking into my house while I sleep and leaving presents.
For me, it’s about family. It’s about getting together with all of the people that I love and having a big meal. It’s about giving gifts to my loved ones to show them that although I don’t always say it, they mean a lot to me and I appreciate them.

But while these are the things that I love about Christmas, sometimes life and the people in it don’t seem to want to work with me on this. Some people seem to feel that Christmas is all about obligation, and whinging about Christmas obligations can just suck the fun right out of it in a matter of moments.

Take, for example my step-sister-in-law. This is only our second Christmas together as a family; and for some reason she felt the need to have a very long and complicated discussion (via facebook) about gift giving and who would be gifting to who and how much we were spending. This was while hinting all the while that she didn't want to buy anyone gifts.
As far as i'm concerned, gift giving does not require pre-meditation. The act of gift giving shouldn't be done with any sort of expectation of reciprocation, and most importantly, gift giving should never be done grudgingly. People seem to forget that there is a reason behind it all that isn't just 'because it's Christams and that's what you do.'

Christmas this year has been further complicated for me by crazy family members.
In every family, there are the ‘strange’ relatives. The unusual ones who are crazy or perpetually angry - or sometimes both.

In my family, we have more than our fair share of these, but most specifically my Uncle and Aunt on my Dad’s side. Some years ago, they moved away from Melbourne to a small town about two and half hours drive away. This wasn’t a problem for Christmas lunches, because after years of jumping from house to house at Christams, we had settled into a routine of having Christmas lunch at my parents place. It's the most centrally located place for all of the family, meaning that everyone has the shortest drive possible to spend Christmas with their family. My Aunt and Uncle knew this when they moved, and each year they drove down to see the family for Christmas.

But as the years progressed, my Aunty and Uncle became more and more withdrawn form the family, until they stopped coming to Christams all together.
Then this year, out of the blue, they decided that they wanted my 83 year old grandmother to spend Christmas with them. Only they didn’t want to make the two and a half hour drive to come and get her. Instead, my other Aunt (also on my dad's side) had to offer to give up her regular family get-together on Christmas day and take my Nanna all the way to spend the day with my crazy relatives. And while it sounds nice that my Nanna gets to see her son and daughter on Christmas day, there's one person that got forgotten in it all. My dad. And it's not a case that the two and a half hour drive is too much when the rest of his family lives here. It's that they didn't even invite him.

So I guess that Christmas isn't about family for everyone.

As well as Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles not being around for Christmas lunch this year, my brother and his wife are in England with their three kids, visiting my sister-in-law's family for the holidays.

So it's going to be a quiet one this year. Instead of 18 of us having lunch together, there will be five. But that's ok, because it's five wonderful family members that I get to spend a whole day with. And I get to spend the evening with my new family-in-law, who despite all the trauma of the gift-giving debate, are great people too.

And for me, that's what really makes Christmas.