I bought my mother a Christmas present in February this year. Closing down of Real Groovy records, Dolly Parton and Kenny Roger’s Christmas collection, on CD. Mum wore out her vinyl copy years ago, hellish hours of the grinning twosome singing saccharine drivel. Hours I’ll never get back.
Anyway, my mother loves this album, so I buy it, and tell the salesperson why because I’m that pretentious, and I keep it for her, sitting on my dresser.
Until she’s dying in hospital. I tell Mum what her christmas present is one afternoon when we’re alone, because I want to give her the pleasure of receiving, even though we both know she won’t get to unwrap it under the tree. She coughs and says “I’m not surprised that album is still being made, it’s so good.” I hope this is ironic, but I fear it was earnest.
We’re doing christmas differently this year. Today’s my last day at work, before being picked up by my father and brother to go across on the ferry and drive to Nelson – obviously we booked a while back – for a week.
We’ve never gone away as a family at christmas.
We’re eating our christmas lunch out, at some posh place near Mapua, which has promised to cook me special vegetarian food since their menu is pure animal.
We’ve never not spent the day at home, cooking and eating and drinking and hanging out with friends and each other.
We’ve never not been with Mum.
Yet so much will be the same. I’ve made two of Mum’s fudges and her strawberry ice cream. Dad’s made Mum’s christmas cake. My sister’s made her biscuits and truffles. We will play board games and listen to Christmas carols. I’ll give Dolly and Kenny to the whole family, and we’ll have a laugh and, for some of us, probably a cry too. My brother and I will be the ones who cry.
So we’ll have presents, and every one of us will cook something delicious for the others, and we’ll play backyard cricket and compete over sudoku and Dad will pick at least one fight about politics per day, mostly with me, and my brother will obsess about the weather and my sister will read ten books and I will need to go off for a walk or do some yoga to stay sane (ish), even though I love my family.
In a way, this year is about our family now, and how we re-form together, since we’re no longer the family we were this time last year, with my mother. I will miss her horribly, but I’m excited about the new stuff too, and looking forward to the familiar. I’m even kinda keen to hear Dolly and Kenny.
Just the once mind.
I hope everyone gets the chance to spend some time with people they love this christmas, and celebrate the time or enjoy some peace. Ciao for now.