Now that the boy-child is no longer a child (and I may actually have to find another pseudonym for him), the impetus to manufacture Christmas has largely disappeared. We finally dispensed with the tree last year (we are all slightly allergic to pine, and a plastic tree was always out of the question); Christmas cakes are no longer baked as there’s no-one much left to enjoy them, and none of us has the desire to spend hours in carpark traffic jams to visit noisy malls full of s**t we don’t really need. Gifts have become small, personal and often home-made, and I think we are all happier about it. This year I even outsourced the production of the family calendars (gifts for the grandparents) to online photo printing companies here and in the UK.
The main traditions that have remained are the boy-child’s advent calendar (who can say no to a daily dose of chocolate) and my need to have baubles around the place. Without a tree to hang them in, I’ve taken to filling large bowls and platters with tinsel and decorations. Sparkly and colourful, they are enough to remind me that’s it’s Christmas and that I really should go and buy some cards for the persistent souls who still send them to us.
And if I sound like a Grinch; well perhaps I am. Without the anchor of Christianity, this particular holiday has little meaning for me. I hate the appalling commercialization that equates spending with caring; and without extended family around, I can’t even lose myself in the notion of seasonal familial bonding.
I think my little family a trois is secure in the bonds of mutual love and Christmas for us is becoming a time to look outward to see how fortunate we are. One in four children in New Zealand live below the poverty line. For a country that long prided itself on being a place of equality and opportunity, this is utterly disgraceful. This Christmas, as in the past, our family is supporting the Auckland City Mission, which has a long tradition of offering a positive Christmas experience to those who would otherwise have none. The Mission hosts a free Christmas Lunch for around 2,000 people, provides around 3,000 food parcels and distributes about 7,000 gifts to children — as well as providing a huge range of services the other 364 days a year.
So I’m going to enjoy my baubles, and look forward to seeing how innovative my boys (and I) can be in creating gifts out of love rather than cash.