Eight? Is that all? What happened to all of the other years?
Was I in a different country? No, I’ve been right her in Australia the whole time.
Was I one of those who were put off by the rank commercialisation of the whole affair? No, I didn’t really care about that.
That’s right, it was religion. I’m not going to say which one, however it is one of the Christian ones who believe that Christmas doesn’t match up to the bible, so they simply don’t do it.
I had Christmas up until I was eight and my parents converted to this religion. I remember one year getting a radio cassette player, and the first song I taped from radio to cassette was… wait for it… Islands in the Stream. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. It was a Big Hit at the time.
Another year, we got a whole stocking full of presents, half of which were clothes and practical things, but that year we also got an electronic keyboard, which fuelled my lifelong love of music.
Many years, Christmas was a small affair, as my parents were relatively poor, so it was only one or two presents and it was all done and dusted by mid-morning. Even so, we couldn’t wait. We made metres and metres of paper chain, and hung that everywhere.
And I do recall one Christmas we had a barbeque at my Aunty’s place.
Then, my parents decided to take up their religion, and it all stopped dead.
Not that we stopped getting presents. We still received everything that we had up until that time. It was just spread out over the whole year, and we refused to engage with our friends and relatives as they did their Christmassy things.
Kids used to ask me whether I missed it, whether I thought I was missing out. I don’t remember specifically missing Christmas. We always found other things to do, places to go, people to hang out with – others like us who didn’t do the celebration either. Plenty of other stuff in our lives changed at that time too, as religion took over every aspect of our lives.
Every. Aspect. Of. Our. Lives…
So, long story short, I eventually realised as an adult that religion was not a good fit for me, so I took up a different life – a more secular life.
I celebrated my “twenty-first” at age 36.
I embraced the creative side of me that had been suppressed as part of my religious upbringing.
And I started to have Christmas.
I put up a big tree, covered it in decorations, put tinsel all over my house, got myself a couple of Christmas song CD’s, bought presents for my son and my cousins and their kids, watched all the Christmas movies that I was never allowed to watch before, and tried to immerse myself in whatever it is Christmas is supposed to be.
Eight years on, and sadly, I am already jaded. While it’s nice to catch up with family (because I only see them a few times during the year), I’m not a fan of Christmas.
My son, who is now twelve, isn’t phased either. He didn’t have Christmas until he was five, and loved it for a while, but this year, I asked him if we could get rid of our big tree and replace it with a little one that sits on the coffee table, and he said “Sure.” He’s happy, so long as he gets a nice big top up on his Steam account, and can buy all the computer games his heart desires (for thirty-five minutes until he uses up all his credit).
My Christmas this year will be a very quiet one. My son is with his dad. My partner’s family Christmas celebration will already be done (as they are spread out all over, and only get together once a year, and that’s not on Christmas Day.) My partner’s daughter doesn’t spend Christmas with him. There are no decorations in my house, apart from the little tree on the coffee table, and I won’t have any Christmas music. My extended family are having ‘Christmas’ on Boxing Day, so that all their family can be together. Which leaves Christmas Day very, very quiet indeed.
I wish I could get excited about Christmas, I really do. I envy those grown ups whose eyes sparkle and who get giddy about the whole thing. I wish I knew what it was they loved about it, so I could perhaps work on building more of that in my life.
I guess maybe it’s that I had massive expectations of what Christmas would be, based on the last time I had it, at eight years old. As an adult, it’s just not all that it’s cracked up to be.
Maybe I’m missing something. Please tell me if I am.
And everyone have a very Merry Christmas.