There is a reason why I’m not caught up in the Christmas frenzy. It’s a long story…..
My mom was a workaholic and perfectionist. She was fiercely competitive, possessive, private, contolling. And she had to keep up with the Joneses. Correction, she was Mrs Jones. The rest had to keep up with her.
Every Christmas was marked with frenzy – doing the shopping, spring cleaning (even the pot plants had to be cleaned). These important tasks were never left to the maid. I had to do it (was her way of keeping me off the streets and in control). We (mom & I) spent the week before Christmas hanging the curtains, washing the carpets, cleaning the cupboards and making sure that all the best cutlery & crockery were ready for use on Xmas day. All the trimmings were also left to moi. While the brothers & dad were left to see to the yard. The yard wasn’t so big. The bloody house was.
Oh, and we had to get new furniture. Every year there was something new. A drinks cabinet. New lounge suite. New Bedroom suite. And the house needed a paint. Really. Every year there was something new to be bought. Never mind that the existing furniture was usable – not stunning – but usable. Mrs Jones you see? Bigger and better (and more expensive) was the rule.
So come Christmas day we were all off to mass, but not before the food was already prepped and the table set. When I got home, it was just a matter of heating & moving everything to the table. Lunch was traditional (as in always the same) – prawn curry, mutton curry, oxtail stew, rice, salted meat, roast leg of lamb, macaroni & cheese, rotti’s, roast chicken, frikkadels, for dessert trifle & ice cream. We never deviated from this menu. It was truly a banquet fit for a king. Oh, and please note that my mom never converted to Christianity. She was Hindu till the day she died. She did all of this for us.
Prezzies were opened after lunch – at about 3 o’clock (yeah, al excitement gone by then). I just wanted to get out of the heels and frilly dress and get into my shorts. I always knew who was getting what – guess who had to wrap the bloody prezzies?
All in all, it was hectic, but lovely. The rest of our family used to pop in on Boxing day to help finish the food. By the time the 27th arrived we were blissfully tired but happy. Christmas was meaningful because of that.
Even after I got married, I used to help her with the curtains & the carpets and everything else. Hubby knew this was tradition so didn’t interfere much. We literally moved in for a few days. Then moved out after boxing day.
Then Mom passed away. It was never the same. Christmas did not have any meaning for me anymore. I really battled to get into the spirit of things. As the only girl I tried to keep it all together (the other sister is from another mother, we only reconciled two years ago). The two brothers had wives, who had their own parents. You get the gist.
It worked that first Christmas. With the second one it became more difficult. Our past was pulling us apart. Which is ironic, because one would think the tradition was ingrained. And that the memory of such an iconic woman would keep us together. It wasn’t enough.
No one wanted to remember. It was too painful. No one (except me) wanted to be together. Everyone just had their own lives. So slowly I learnt to let it go. It is not as painful any more. But it still is.
I have started a new tradition (second year in the making). We put up the tree. We buy prezzies that means something to us. Nothing fancy or expensive. We have either an old Christmas supper or Christmas lunch. And we open the prezzies at 12am on the dot (Christmas morning). I make the prawns and the rotti, some roast and a dessert. That is it. I don’t slave in front of the stove. We go to mass – depending on whether we do lunch or supper. We don’t do the frenzied rush anymore.
Now Christmas has a different meaning for me and my family (hubby & kids). What it really is supposed to be. Remembering Christs’ birth. Why the gifts were given. What we should be celebrating. Not just cleaning house and buying new furniture and stuff to make the tree nicer & the table more fancy. No. To me (us) it’s about taking time out to remember….Christ’s birth. And that wonderful woman who will always have a peace of my heart and be a part of my life.
Okay, that’s enough emotion for today (it’s the drugs ;o))….
So here’s wishing you all a very Blessed Xmas and the best for 2009! May all your dreams and wishes be fulfilled in the coming year.
AND, if you can’t be good, take pictures :o))