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TWELVE Days of Christmas? Not On My Watch


Proper homemade gingerbread house that I had absolutely nothing to do with. Grandmothers are where it’s at.

Good New Year to you, dear people of the internet. It seems to be week three of January. I haven’t written since well before that dark and dreadful time back in December when everyone was mainlining candy canes and behaving like juvenile Hunters S. Thompson, coming up with insane demands and changing their minds about what was on their Christmas list every eighteen seconds from dawn until dusk, which in December in Australia is about 16 hours.

This year I spent December dangling Santa over my children’s heads like a jolly fat stick shaped carrot. I punctuated the long idle hours with threats to inform on them to Santa for all their wrongdoing.  The irony was lost on me until now of the time I shouted at them that if they didn’t stop dobbing on each other I would tell Santa they were dreadful and that he shouldn’t come. After Christmas I had to change tack and I began threatening to throw away their presents if they didn’t behave. This threat was rendered entirely hollow by me spending the rest of the time complaining that there was no more room in the bins because of all the toy packaging. 

I’ve realised that one of the biggest issues with having Christmas in summer is how ridiculously long the days are. I think I could probably cope with small children and Christmas if the days were eight hours long, like they are in sensible northern countries, and if the school break were only one week. Eight hours is how long Christmas should last. Day after day of seemingly endless light and heat and Christmas music and playing the wretched educational games you bought your kids (I’m looking at you, Cat Bingo), well, that’s just a recipe for misery. Christmas shouldn’t be an endurance sport.

But we got through it, and in the end Santa did come, even though Santa was a fairly hopeless this year. Instead of bringing the mint chocolate the kids asked for, Santa left a handwritten note explaining that he had brought their chocolate but Rudolph had slobbered on it so he was taking it home with him. Santa, who is something of an over-explainer, wrote that fortunately he happened to have glanced in the freezer while he was in the house and happened to notice that Garnet and May Blossom’s brilliant and charming mother had made them a concoction of melted cooking chocolate and a single smashed up candy cane, so Santa was satisfied that that would be a good substitute for the reindeer-nibbled mint chocolate. Then he left them with a DVD and some plastic beach toys and he continued on to bring other children enormous Lego sets and bicycles.

This, not entirely surprisingly, led to a Christmas night festival of tears from May Blossom, who lay on our bed asking difficult questions like ‘Is Santa real or is it just you and Daddy?’ She is only six, so we just compounded the lie by adding some more lies, which seems to be what you are supposed to do. I tell you what, you’ve got to be up for some hardcore lying to be a parent. For some reason, once you have devoted your life to your children, you are supposed to bend over backwards to give the credit for all the nice things to a fictional trio of frankly unconvincing characters. The chocolates are from the Easter Bunny, the toys are from Santa and the cash is from the tooth fairy. Oh us? What’s the point of us? We’re just here to stop you eating delicious things and limit your screen time. We had you so we could become the villains in our own narrative.

Santa’s miserliness was more than made up for by the generosity of the grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, who showered the kids with cool stuff, though in traditional fashion they aren’t playing with any of it and are off somewhere right now making either a booby trap or a bilby trap. I wasn’t listening when they told me, because I’ve been with them every waking moment now for weeks and I’ve had to let them become white noise. I figure I’ll work out which it was when either a bucket full of ball bearings falls off a door onto my head or I am presented with a live bilby.

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