I don’t get Christmas. There I’ve said it.
The truth is that I never have, even from a young age. I remember vividly one Christmas morning waking up and getting a jigsaw (yes I am that old) and a bike. It was snowing outside so wasn’t allowed to take the bike for a ride and I made the jigsaw before breakfast. Not that I am ungrateful, I had hours of fun on the bike during the years that followed, but I couldn’t for the life of me get my head around the reasons everyone was going mental in the house over well… everything.
As time progressed and our wee family got bigger, we moved right into the heart of the countryside in the south of Ireland to a fine God fearing community. Essentially that move was a reverse step in every single way… anti progression if you like. See in Dublin we were a bit of a mysterious family, our father was a sea going sailor type (he was an engineer but hey the sailor analogy was quality ) however, in Cork we were just ‘normal’. Dad became a university lecturer and for a long time Mum was just that, Mum.
Christmas then became even more of an event. An event for which there was massive amounts of planning and then the complete panic before total chaos.
Year after year we ran to the same tempo, which started in like, October, when Mum would get the big bucket (that served no other purpose than to take space in the utility room) down and announce that she was going to start her puddings for ‘the Christmas’. There was usually a warning for this day, typically mountains of dried fruit as part of the shopping but I always seemed to miss the signs and end up mixing a horrible smelling, thick, gloopy, 2 foot deep pudding mix until my arms were completely done in. For no thanks.
Weeks would pass and then the mysterious singularity would be de-bowled and cooked… a disaster occurred one year when a young puppy, new to the family and not familiar with the whole process managed to break into the storeroom and eat 2 puddings. Suffice to say said puppy slept for a few days and OMG the smells from his wee under formed intestines!!!!
Then there is Christmas Eve, at which stage, the wheels would usually have properly come off the bus…all sorts of meat would be cooked (burned) and there is of course the small mountain of veg that needed to be ‘prepared’. I draw the line at that bastion of Cork meat Spiced Beef. It smells like armpit sweat but boil it for days we did every Christmas. It makes me physically ill to just think about it!
Then the big event, the day itself, ‘The Christmas’, the one time that the entire family made it to mass, of course I had been going to mass for years, ahem… well at least that’s what I told Dad… just the earlier ‘showing’… get it out of the way if you like. So Christmas day mass was a series of ninja like moves to try and limit the chances of Dad realizing that I had weekly in fact, jumped out of my bedroom window, ran around the house only to announce my arrival back from mass at the appropriate time.
Then there were the farmers. Even years after I had left home they were still astonished that I had ‘moved to the big smoke’, with all the fancy people. I kid you not it was painful and year after year it was exactly the same conversation, interspersed with the list of those who had passed on during the year. “Did you know Johnny… sure he passed away there after ‘the Easter’”…
Every year I say I am going to do something different, I never do. I wonder what Christmas on a beach would be like… hmm…