Last Christmas (I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you gave it away…)
Excuse me, Wham! and I share a profound spiritual connection. Anyway, last Christmas, I wrote about how much I love the silly season here on this blog. This year (to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special…) I would like to share with you again my yuletide yearnings.
Christmas, in my family, is the big kahuna of celebrations. And in a family that celebrate exceptionally well and regularly - we end every week with a Sunday night feast - the big celebration really is...big! Maxtreme is probably a closer definition.
To give you an idea, MamaK’s list of Christmas baking (this is just for us, not Christmas gift baking, or Christmas deserts, or Christmas main meals, or Christmas snacks…), consists of the following items:
Marmalade and Macadamia Cookies
Nigella’s spiced nuts
(This list has been revised downwards from previous years. Believe.)
It has been ever thus in our household, and here begins our nativity story. From my earliest memories of Christmas, we’ve had this nativity set. I don’t know where MamaK got it from, although I believe she’s had it since before she married PapaK, which makes it pretty old.
Anyway, the ceramic figures of Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, the angel (my favorite) and Baby Jesus, whose face had been lovingly glued back on after a minor face-separating-from-body mishap, were the most special part of decorating our house at Christmas time. After all the other decorations had been placed carefully, after all the cards were hung on strings around our house, after I’d draped myself in itchy tinsel and admired the effect, the nativity was taken from its special bag at the bottom of the suitcase of Christmas decorations. Carefully, we would unwrap the pastel tissue protecting each piece, tissue as soft and filmy as silk from careful folding and refolding, year after year.
In the Disney version of family:
We’d then gather around, hushed and reverent, as MamaK retold the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the birth of the baby in the manger. My two brothers and I would be filled with wonder at the birth of the Christ child, and proceed to sing Silent Night in perfect harmony, as we gazed upon the serene faces of Baby Jesus and Friends.
What actually happened in the real life version of our family:
We’d have an epic, EPIC battle about who got to arrange the nativity. Which would inevitably end in a truly un-Christ-like morass of hair pulling, sulking, screaming and pouting. I don’t know why arranging the nativity, of all things, was the pinnacle of Christmas decorating (see my earlier comments about my tinsel love), but the chief nativitiser was a bitterly sought after position in our pecking order. The losers would inevitably profess that life was so unfair and that they never ever got to do anything they wanted to do, EVER. Poor MamaK’s please for sharing and being nice would fall on six deaf little ears.
Things simmered down a bit as we passed into our teens, although the nativity always occupied pride of place in our Christmas display, and everyone freely expressed their opinions on where it would be best placed. So, it was with much surprise that MamaK and PapaK, over ciders and schnitzels at the Durham (again, celebrating – the cause this time? Because it was Wednesday), announced that their new nativity set had arrived.
What? New Nativity? But what about the old one?? We all cried in perfect harmony.
Well, we don’t need two…the parental sheepishly said.
The thought of Mary and Joseph, wonky Baby Jesus, the shepherds and the wise men and the angel, sitting in the bottom of the Christmas decoration suitcase, ensconced in their silky tissue, unloved and un fought over, was clearly too much for my brothers and I to bear.
Before I could open my mouth with a suggestion, my BigLittleBrother suggested that perhaps, now we were all living in our own places, we could have a shared care arrangement of the nativity set, each of us having custody on a rotating basis. And in refutation of our lifetime-long nativity rivalry, my brothers both suggested that I should have the nativity in this, the first year of its rotation, as I am the eldest.
So, this year, I’m looking forward to having Baby Jesus and the whole motley crew in my apartment, watching over my Christmas. But more importantly, I’m looking forward to wrapping them in their crumpled, soft tissue, and passing them on to my brother and Tessy Halberton next Christmas, to watch over them in their turn. After all, Christmas is all about sharing and being nice. We know this now.