Some Christmases stand out. The one where I pushed my sister’s face into the pavlova because she was annoying me, that was one of those. The one I spent in England with a vegan family with a carnivorous father with nut roast as the centrepiece.
But really, most of my childhood Christmases – and those are the ones that matter – have essentially melded into one – one long hot summer at the beach with my grandparents. The trip that nowadays you can do in three hours was then six, with five people’s worth of toilet stops, cup-of-tea breaks, she’s-annoying-me-I-want-to-change-seats and stop-the-car-I’m-going-to-be-sick standards. Then we’d crest the hill and glimpse the water and all was forgiven. After that it was just endless sun and sand and one minute showers ‘cos the house is full and we have to mind the tank, and eating.
Christmas Day itself was always the same. My grandparents did not go in for wastefulness, and out came the infinitely reusable three foot metal and tinsel tree and the strings of Christmas cards hung across the room. The cards we later made into bauble decorations for the next year. This was called entertainment.
We would have Christmas lunch, presided over by my Pa, who would sit at the head of the table and wait for everything to be brought, as was standard then. I’m sure my Nana never ate a single item hot. Then we would all take to the couch, with the curtains always closed because it was too hot, which I hated, and settle in to eating the real food of the day which was the nosebag.
I’m not sure whether this moniker originated with my mother or Nana. It was a supermarket bag full of lollies. You hooked the handles over your ears and had to try and get a lolly, or more, into your mouth without using your hands. Strangely this game was not something the menfolk were interested in, possibly because my Pa was always gripped by a western and my father was always asleep on the couch. We girls ran the show, anyway. Christmases were ever thus, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.