Christmas has the ability to send me screaming...

Christmas, like weddings, has the ability to leave me rocking quietly in the corner singing nursery rhymes to myself. It seems so soothing compared to the psychotic ranting of tunes such as ‘Here comes Santa Clause!” or the cloying sweetness of Mummy’s adultery as she kisses Santa Clause, that are drilled at us at this time of year in every shop. In all the mayhem of work, kids, new projects, relationship maintenance (like car maintenance I seem better at the roadside breakdown than the daily upkeep) paying tax and trying to find something exciting to do with the egg, bits of tomatoes and the tube of wasabi that is left in the fridge at 5:30pm – I somehow forgot about Christmas.

Then it happened. The girls at pak n save started appearing with Christmas tree earrings. I screamed and ran.

That wasn’t all. The girls in Whitcoulls had Christmassy headbands and the Santa Clauses on the wrapping paper were leering at me.

How could this happen so fast? Christmas – like most military campaigns must be organised and survived – preferably with no homicides and Mum not in the psych unit muttering about how the chestnut stuffing didn’t come out right. I’m not prepared and nothing is done! Kids need a present that will let them know you noticed something about them in the last 6 months and that the universe is basically on their side but not so much stuff that they go nuts and then drown in a sea of paper without even thanking anyone.

There are random Uncles that need to be avoided or another cunning plan to put Aunt Myrtle off making her 70’s gelatine ice Christmas pudding without telling her that it actually tastes like pigs trotters with raisins thereby taking away the one gift that she was convinced she had to give the world. There’s family politics with no speaker of the House to referee and then there’s the whole food deal thrown in on top. And in a recession.

Somehow Christmas – which is supposed to be a time of rest and inner refurbishment was looking more like a trans-tasman crossing in a bathtub.

Just as I tried to suppress my inner Grinch and reach deep… deep inside to find some unscroogelike sense of a Christmas spirit the shop assistant went and broke this Grinchy camel’s back. About to finish the transaction – allowing the possibility of a tantalisingly close escape to the tinsel free fresh air outside she said cheerily – with her reindeer headband bobbing delicately in the headlights of my incredulous stare “ Would you like any of our Christmas Specials!!!! on our Christmas Specials!!! table for $15?” The Christmas Specials Table!!! was a hodge podge collection of stuff that had nothing to do with Christmas and may as well have had a large sign on it which read “ Here is lots of crap that we can’t sell but hope you will be hypnotised into buying by the reindeer headbands our staff are wearing.” Strangely I could hear the theme song of the deer hunter and I was personally glad and indeed relieved that I was unarmed – because the day could have turned out very differently for all of us.

Christmas should not make one homicidal I thought driving home – it’s a time of miracles and hope and…financial hangovers and familial warfare said the inner Grinch. But lo, what is that on yonder horizon? (ok… down my driveway?) Is it not a modern Christmas miracle? The neighbours have between them mown my lawn and my Mum has left a Christmas cake in my deep freeze. ‘Un – iced’ she says… which is probably wise seeing as the last time she left me to ice a Christmas cake – I found the icing and the Santa and the reindeer… and then my brother’s old tin soldiers and a bottle of red cochineal and the cake became…well… Santa’s last stand at the North Pole – a Yuletide military operative in Afghanistan that had ended badly, in icing.

Thanks guys – you’ve restored that festive feeling!

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