Why do I dread Christmas?
Well, I can’t remember much good happening around that time of year! The best Christmas I had was the first Christmas I had in Australia, in 1990, when my flight to Cairns to spend the time with friends was cancelled at the last minute due to a cyclone, I rushed out and bought some king prawns and headed to the beach, which I had to myself.
Okay, so maybe I’m being a sourpuss, and to be honest most of my childhood memories are terrific. We all had a stocking at the end of the bed and were thrilled to receive an orange or mandarin at the tip of the stocking. My father used to make me toys out of cotton reels and we got small, often handmade items, as presents. Christmas lunch was always a good one, and the family feeling was great…we used to visit both grandparents, walking to their homes, even in the snow, and catching up with uncles and aunts, and cousins of course. We used to play board games – the grownups always played cards, and we kids played Snakes and Ladders, and charades. It was always very family oriented.
As adulthood came along, Christmas became stressful. Mum always insisted on all of us being there and she would say the meal would be ready by 1pm, and of course it was often not ready until gone 3pm, which meant we were all starving and/or rather drunk! It was always a ‘big deal’ – cooking for so many – and we weren’t allowed to help! Once my children came along, the last thing they wanted to do was turn out and drive for an hour or so to my parents. But it was a family ‘duty’ so we did it and put on a happy face.
But one Christmas I was really ill with ‘flu’ – not just a cold…full blown ‘flu’ – couldn’t go, and couldn’t cook etc. Another Christmas my then husband disappeared off for three days to see his girlfriend, leaving me a wreck, trying to make it a good day for my children.
Yet another Christmas we were in the Middle East on a contract, and I had a car crash. I was driving along the main highway and a woman driver drove out of a side road and I drove into her. She was wearing a chador and didn’t have peripheral vision. I was in hospital having had to have surgery on my face and for four days my very frightened children were looked after by strangers. Maybe I should mention at this point that the excellent Iranian surgeon came into my room, locked the door, and raped me two days after the surgery.
Another Christmas my mother was really ill with an undiagnosed brain tumour. At the same time my daughter had ‘disappeared’ (at 14) and I was instructed not to tell my mum as her headaches (according to the naturopath) were stress related. So my son and I went visiting and we had an agreement that we would signal each other when we couldn’t “pretend” any more. We were the ‘family cabaret’ normally so it was really hard to put on the act.
Yet another Christmas my brother had a serious car crash which left him in a coma for several days. Then my other brother had a bike crash which left him with altered personality.
Shortly after my mum died, we all tried to make it a peaceful time for Dad, but he mourned her for 15 years until the day he died.
Dad came to visit me and my second husband when he was 80, and the plan was to take him to see as much of Australia as possible during his time here, from 3 December. One week before Christmas I was taken into hospital with a very serious abdominal problem, and it was three weeks before I was able to get out of hospital, and I was still very very sick.
As the years went by, I began to try to ignore Christmas. The above are just a few unhappy ‘happenings’ times during the ‘holiday season’. There are more! Divorce, death, sickness. All seemed to occur during this time of year.
Then in 2011, early December, I had to rush back to England to say farewell to my father. Even that wasn’t plain sailing, as I had to have an ear operation before I was allowed to fly! So I had the op on the Wednesday, and flew on the Friday, arriving on the Saturday. I saw dad twice, the Sunday he sang a song with me, and then on the Monday he died. He waited for me to arrive. That Christmas I spent in his apartment, wallowing in sadness. His funeral was on Christmas Eve! My brothers forced me to go round and spend Christmas Day with them, and we did have a few smiles as their adult children were such a laugh.
Last Christmas we headed to Sydney to visit my daughter and my son had flown in from England to spend the time together. We had our caravan on the back, and the car broke down near Moruya. RACV got us into a caravan park, Christmas Eve, and we were stuck there for 8 weeks while the car had major repairs. That wasn’t SO bad, as it’s a lovely area. And we did see in the New Year in Sydney which everyone should do once in their lives.
So this Christmas, just the two of us, are going to housesit in the Adelaide Hills. No plans apart from that. Letting the family fit in with us.
Happy Christmas to everyone on SAS!
Editor’s note: we remember that Dee is an active member of our community and like anyone, she has had her good experiences and bad. This is just one sadder article against the many positive she has written, including her wonderful nomads trip, now in its 27th instalment (the most recent you can read here).
What does Christmas represent you? Is it a sad or happy time of year for you? Tell us below.