I’ve crossed over. Not in the creepy John Edwards TV show psychic sense, but in the child-becoming-adult sense. I know, I know. Didn’t I pass puberty about 15 years ago? But it seems there was one last bastion of childhood still remaining. Now I am even an adult when it comes to Christmas.
My first Christmas with my son officially marks the end of me as one of the children on Christmas Day, having gifts and food lovingly showered upon me by my parents and grandparents, with not much needed from me in return. I always gave presents too, of course, but I belonged to the youngest generation, the one at the end of the line. Now I am a parent, and my son has taken my place, in fact the place of all my siblings, in receiving the fun, joy and deliciousness that we have prepared for him.
This year we hosted Christmas at our house, which further cemented the transition of my husband and I from beneficiary to benefactor. We had a huge shopping list, we decorated the table, we organised the drinks esky, we even cooked the meat. The MEAT! Talk about responsibility. It was wonderful! Perfectly crackled pork with juicy flesh and sweet apricot stuffing… Oh, yes, and the feeling of our new found responsibility was awesome too.
We give and receive presents every year like normal people; choosing, wrapping, stacking them under the tree. But this year was different. The only presents that mattered were the ones marked “to Seth”, which outnumbered all other relatives at a ratio of about 5 to 1. It didn’t matter what the present was, we all leaned forward eagerly awaiting the look of wonder and fascination to cross his face when he ripped into the paper to find what lay inside. Then he would hit it (his current exploration technique), and we would all laugh and feel happy and declare it to be the best Christmas ever!
As a kid you are completely oblivious to the machinations behind putting on a such big celebration. The planning, budgeting, shopping and cooking. But I’ve just realised that that’s what makes it special. How many times have we said that giving is better than receiving? Well, I think giving the event, the production of Christmas, is even more rewarding than giving actual gifts. A gift will be opened and admired, and you will be thanked. You will probably even receive one in return.
On the other hand, the experience of a beautiful day will be shared and remembered, and there is no need to repay you in kind because it’s impossible to do. Just a face full of smiles, and you will happily do it again and again because you can. And because adults get to do whatever they want.