Twas the Night Before Christmas
When I was 10 years old, I had my definitive Christmas - the only by which all other Christmases are compared and fail to measure up. That was the year I got my ABBA t-shirt and a white polyester ABBA cushion with blurry reprint of the Arrival album cover. That was the year I got my purple dragster bike. A purple Malvern Star with the regulation white flower covered basket on the front. That day, and many days after, I tried to learn to ride. I never had a good sense of balance. No other Christmas comes close though some still stand out.
There was the year I got a ride on tractor. I was two years old. I loved tractors. My grandparents had a farm and my grandad would have to drive past the house to the barn. He'd always stop and I'd run out and hop on his knee and drive the tractor back for him. I was much better with tractors than bikes. What I remember about that Christmas was not so much getting the tractor but running into my parent's bedroom, bubbling with excitement to show them what Santa had given me but my Dad was hungover and wouldn't wake up. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't look, why he wasn't excited for me.
Then there was the year my sister and I got rollerskates. We thought we'd be like Olivia Newton John in Xanadu but we forgot one thing. There was nowhere to use them. We lived in the country with no footpaths, no shopping centre car parks, no flat concrete surfaces. Our only hope was the cricket nets at the footy ground. I remember running across the oval with plovers swooping at us in attack.
I remember the year my sister decided at the last minute she wanted to be the fancy dress parade so Mum and I turned my old green school skirt into a Christmas tree costume for her. We put a hoop around the bottom to hold it out and covered it in tinsel and baubles. We made a big gold star and stuck it on her head. It was a great costume but the prize went to some kid who's mother had bought him a "real" costume. I still think we were robbed.
Then there was the year I came home from the pub, well liquoured up. My sister woke up and wanted to open her presents immediately. So Mum made me sit up with her and put together her She-Ra Princess of Power castle. That thing was harder to construct than Ikea furniture but it was better to agree and get Mum back to bed than explain why I was home 2 hours after the pub shut, smelling of cheap sex.
Andrew, Tim and I trying to have a sophisticated Christmas lunch and I cut a chunk out of my finger. I sat through Christmas lunch with it wrapped in a tea-towel but it wouldn't stop bleeding so we decided I should go to the casuality ward. But we were too drunk to drive there We rang around our friends and Bernard was sober, being a non-drinking Buddhist but he turned up with a bottle of champagne so we decided to drink more instead. I still have a scar.
The Christmas Anita and I popped in to wish Tim a Merry Christmas and ended up spending the afternoon watching his Christmas porn.
The year Anita, Tim and I decided to ignore tradition and went to Victoria Street for a Vietnamese lunch instead then ended up drunk and disorderly at the Prince of Wales, yelling greetings out the pub window and dancing in the corner.
This year, Christmas will be a quiet lunch without much celebrating. I wish I still had that purple dragster. I'd ride away with streamers flying out from the handlebars, dinging my bell, and come back when Christmas was over.