My earliest solid memory of Christmas was when I was six. My sister, the mean one, (ok - I was the youngest; all my siblings were mean) took me in to the neighbours back shed and showed me where my parents were hiding our presents.
'See? There is no Father Christmas you dummie.'
I cried. I cried loudly. It was little consolation that my sister was severely punished when I ran bawling back to mum and dobbed on her. In my mind she was tied to a stake and burned to a crisp but I don't think that really happened. I never saw any scars anyway, either mental or physical. Basically my mean sister got away with destroying my childhood with one swift, well-aimed blow to my psyche and Christmas was never the same again.
Finding out that Santa wasn't real was a terrible jolt to my six year old mind. It ranked alongside discovering there were no tiny people singing and playing weeny instruments inside the radio. That Grandpop's blood sausage didn't taste like chocolate. (Yep - mean sister again.) That falling stars weren't actually whole falling stars but just the cosmos' way of burning off its rubbish. That when my elderly neighbour shouted 'Look behind you, Zorro!' while watching the television, he couldn't actually hear her. It also took rather too long to discover that paying my brother to polish his shoes was not a privilige and that it was actually unreasonable to have to pay him twice if the shine wasn't quite up to scratch. I grew up in a time when belief in things like these was entirely plausible - we had no Google to check our facts. All my facts came via my untrustworthy siblings and don't even get me started on the lifetime of falsehoods my brother told me. He's still doing it, but just for the record, I know now that the reason you know it's me calling, bro, is not because you work for ASIO...
It's almost a relief to know there are still a few remnant populations tucked away in the suburbs whose parents are still inculcating lies like Santa and Falling Stars into their children's heads. I do have some small concerns for those kids whose parents have purchased Elf On A Shelf and stuck that little tattletale in their children's bedrooms to report back to Santa on wether they've been naughty or nice. I'm inclined to think those kids might need some expert help later on. I want to give my grandchildren Christmas stocking and tell them Santa brought these but my daughter is more inclined to tell them these things are likely manufactured by underpaid Chinese labour and contributing to global warming. I don't think she's actually told them this yet but the chances are high that she will.
All I really have left to show for Christmas is my Cake. Yes, Cake with a capital C. The fruit is soaked for a full year in fabulous brandy. Then in September gigantic duck eggs are sought and a dozen cracked open and beaten with kilos of brown sugar and rich yellow butter. There are almost 3 kilo of various dried fruit in the bowl and I have to use my hands to mix it all. After it's baked the Cake is covered in homemade marzipan and then with another layer of Christmas icing - also home made. I love my Cake. I unwrap it on Christmas day and wrap a ribbon round it then place it high on the Christmas Cake Plate in the centre of the table. We eat it with hard sauce.
But not me, not this year. This year I will just take great lungsful of the fruity aroma as others dig in because this Christmas I'm going to Avoid Those Calories.
Christmas just isn't going to be the same. But I hope Santa comes...
Have a wonderful holiday everyone. Our office is closed from December 17th till January 7th. That's plenty of time to write a blockbuster for us, right?