Friday, 12 December 2008

My Christmas planner

Not quite sure how you’ll survive the run-up to yet another family Christmas? Just follow the lead of Pat McDermott, writer for the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, for she has a cunning plan which I have adapted to suit my family …

Well, what’s the state of play at your house, with Christmas only a few weeks away? Gifts neatly wrapped, fruitcake doused liberally with rum, the Christmas tree a picture of elegant simplicity?

I’m told that there are houses like this, where freezers are stuffed with mince tarts and sausage rolls already, and refrigerators are crammed so tightly with champagne and legs of ham that to pull out one small pot of mustard would trigger an avalanche.

I have a feeling that perhaps your place is more like mine – a tangle of fairly lights and good intentions. Don’t worry. Here’s what we’re going to do.

December 1: Put the first draft of the proposed Christmas Day schedule on fridge door. This is so big kids and their girlfriends and boyfriends can start the delicate negotiations that will eventually decide whose parents they visit first and who they visit last.

To estimate how long they’ll stay at each, the simplest formula is to divide traveling time by the size of the Christmas lunch they have to eat and then factor in the number of cousins coming up the front path carrying cases of beer. Then add 30 minutes of impromptu games of cricket and Trivial Pursuit.

December 4: Today, you and I post Christmas cards. Any earlier and you look needy, any later and it looks like you panicked when you got a card from someone you didn’t remember. Put the second draft of Christmas Day schedule on the fridge. According to the big kids, there’s now a seven minute window of opportunity at 3.23pm on Christmas Day. We’ll have to eat fast.

December 7: It’s time to take little children to see Santa (an elf once gave me a lolly when I agreed to get off Santa’s knee so my four-year-old could climb on instead). It’s not the right time, however, to take a baby on a long flight to see Grandma. For one thing, there’s no truth to the rumour that alcohol affects breast milk. The Crown Princess once stayed extremely wide awake for six hours despite the three generous glasses of chardonnay I enjoyed somewhere over the Pacific. A much better idea is to invite Grandma to visit you. Then she can do your ironing.

December 12: It’s about now that school breaks up for the summer vacation. The kids away at university descend on the spare room which used to be their bedroom. Go Christmas shopping, but do not buy a trampoline. The thrill of a broken wrist wears off fast and then the only thing they’re good for is drying sweaters. I wouldn’t buy a battery operated choo-choo train again, either. It’s well nigh impossible to listen to It’s A Small World After All 23 times in a row without losing control.

Tack up third draft of Christmas Day schedule. The big kids have moved the window of opportunity to 9am. I know that Crown Prince can eat roast turkey and plum duff with brandy butter for breakfast, but will anyone else?

December 16: Stop the world … today is Crown Prince’s birthday. We pretend Christmas isn’t happening! This year he is 25 years old.

December 17: The world has two sorts of people – those who decorate Christmas trees slowly and carefully, and those who dance wildly around the room, breaking ornaments and hurling tinsel. Every family has some of each. I always make the MOTH (Man of the House) go to his room.

December 21: Turn over and go back to sleep. Today’s the day that the extended family arrives for Christmas drinks and a spot of sarcasm. Smile brightly, be nice, and spike the punch if necessary.

December 24: I found that when taking little people to church on Christmas Eve, it’s best to choose one with thick carpets and a boisterous congregation. No one can hear you scream over the carols.

According to the final Christmas Day schedule, the big kids will be at our house and awake around 2pm. They want prawns and ham and no weird salads. When we open presents a few things won’t fit and someone will break one of the good wine glasses, but if all goes to plan, it will still be the best Christmas ever.

And now it’s time for your and I to go to bed or Santa will never come.

1 comment:

Daughter of the Midwest said...

Sounds like a good plan to me!!! My mother's family is The Clampetts meet The Munsters----a little tipsy, a little weird and a lot of fun.