What I'd like my kids to remember about this Christmas

Mum-of-three Talia Blake tries to find a balance between her Christmas fantasies and her family's reality.

Did you hear about the old man, who creeps into your house while you’re sleeping? Via your potentially non-existent chimney? They say he’s just short of six-foot-tall, has excessive facial hair and has eaten his fair share of cookies. He, and his red suit, defy the laws of physics and time travel. He keeps track of all the children in the whole wide world and their behaviour. Apparently, he only gives presents to the children who’ve been nice, but I’ve seen otherwise. This unique story is nothing short of a miracle. It requires Faith to believe, and a bit of magical wonder. Did you hear about the teenage virgin who was pregnant? Can you imagine the whispers around the town? They said this baby was to become God’s gift to mankind. Did she have grandiose ideas, or was this the most crazy, humble display of unrivalled Love? This unique story is nothing short of a miracle. It requires Faith to believe, and a bit of magical wonder.

I like how these well-known Christmas themes instill a seed of Hope. And Hope is magical. Hope is inspiration in the midst of our mundane. Hope is enriching. And whatever you believe, I’m sure most of us share the commonality of Christmas being about family, friends and food. But to be serious, there are only two kinds of people in this world: those who, like me, feel the urge to start playing Christmas music in September, and those who don’t. My husband is those-who-don’t, so we compromise, and I suppose I appear a little less crazy than I truly am. I also adore festive decorations with every cell in my being; the tastefully themed decorations that are masterfully created and stylishly coordinated, gracefully sprinkled and draped, adorning rustic homes in the magazines. That urge is curbed by my budget and time constraints. My heart’s desire for all things Christmassy remains mostly a fantasy because, in reality, I’m too busy preventing my three beautiful, crazy boys from killing each other with candy canes. They are young, and so close in age, that they all lack equally the same amount of impulse control and sensibility.

Like many of you, I’m living life in, what we jokingly refer to as “crisis mode”, although behind the jokes we have moments where it gets real. My reality is a far cry from serenely stringing together burlap bunting and delicately placing ornaments on the mantel piece with a soft-focus smile. No, that’s not my life. Mine involves cradling my highly sensitive son, while he has a forty-minute break down at the thought of Mr Claus. Full-blown, sincere, distress. Yep. As much as we tried to go along with the social norm, our son was legitimately having night terrors about Santa. So, needless to say, our boys were young when they learnt they needn’t worry. But if Christmas wasn’t about Santa - what became of our Christmases? Don’t panic! It turns out really Good, even though I’m not a Stepford Wife (in case you hadn’t picked up on that).
So, in the lead up to December 25th, my rebellious streak and my love of Christmas go head-to-head. I am pulled in various directions and can only hope that I land somewhere in the middle of making it magical and keeping it real. The pressure to give in and allow Christmas to be consumed by mountains of gifts and materialism, is hard to resist, but the fire in me fights to ensure Christmas is ethical and anti-consumerism. I find myself trying to get creative and, honestly, lowering my standards. After all, gold-tipped pine cones and home-made-sugar-free-vegan truffles won’t change my life. I can make Christmas magical in other ways. In fact, I must. Because, quite frankly, between being a Mum, household manager, nutritionist, accountant, early childhood educator, house cleaner, gardener, marriage specialist, referee, chauffeur, life student and working nurse… I don’t have the time or the money to mimic the visions in my head.

Remember how I said, don’t worry, it turns out good? My boys still get to experience a magical and hopeful Christmas, because lasting festive memories come from experiences, not things (irrespective of who delivers them). We’ve been creating family traditions over the years, that I hope will overshadow their rambunctious pine-needle battles and related injuries. We decorate the tree together. We mix crushed gingernuts through softened vanilla ice-cream for an easy, festive dessert. We read Christmas-themed stories throughout December. I finally get to blast Christmas music throughout our home. And on Christmas Day- we have our own special way of doing things. We fill our home with music, people, food, laughter, and good times. In twenty or thirty years, my children won’t remember their presents, but I hope they will remember the magic in the air, our togetherness and most of all, as the Christmas themes above inspire a Faith and a Hope in something, I hope they remember it overflowing as a Love for what truly matters; he tangata, he tangata, he tangata (it is people, it is people, it is people).