As a kid, Christmases in my house were always magical.
The tree stood proudly in our lounge room, towering over everyone and everything. There were enough lollies around the house to rot the teeth of a school’s worth of kids, carols were played, and presents that Santa delivered were in abundance under the tree come Christmas morning. I really consider myself lucky that I have some great festive memories, as cliché as that sounds.
But now that I’m all grown up, married and have a child of my own, my wife and I have struck a festively silly problem.
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Who’s Christmas was better?
While our tree featured no wrapped parcels until Santa delivered the presents exclusively on Christmas Day in my family, my wife’s family gazed upon gifts from Mum and Dad, aunties and grandparents, which were placed under the tree in the lead up to December 25 (then on the big day, Santa filled a stocking with smaller gifts for the kids).
The problem is that both of us loved our respective festive experiences so much that we both want to replicate it for daughters, who are becoming more aware of what this time of the year means.
She’s not cluey enough to know that a big jolly fat man in a red suit sits in a sleigh and gets towed around the world by flying reindeer (one of which has a glowing red nose and was bullied by he’s fellow antlered buddies), dropping presents that were made by a team of elves in the North Pole at every good little boy and girl’s house.
What we have worked out is that we can’t celebrate it both ways.
“I can’t believe your family waited until Christmas morning to put out the presents – where were all the beautiful wrapped gifts?! Hidden in a cupboard somewhere?” my wife asked incredulously during a semi-heated debate on the issue.
“We’ll, I find it crazy that your gifts were put out weeks before Christmas Day, and all you got was a sack full of smaller, shittier presents,” I retorted. “Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the surprise factor? We are sooooo not doing it that way!”
Normally we pride ourselves on our ability to compromise, but in this case we were both unwilling to give in to each other’s suggestions.
It also dawned on us that in our time together, we had never discussed this precise situation whatsoever and didn’t quite realise the importance that Christmas Day held for each of us.
Eventually, we reached a compromise via a humorous round of family mediation and we’ve decided to incorporate a little of each other’s gift-giving traditions into what we hope will be a great day for our little girl.
And for the record, we’re both well aware that Christmas is about more than just presents under the tree. But for both of us, it’s what the presents represent. It’s about creating memories and traditions that our little one will grow up with and share with us for many years to come, and something that she’ll recall later in life when she tells her kids how she spent Christmas Day when she was growing up.
It’s also something that she too will probably have a blistering row about with her partner in 30 years time.