Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An alternative Christmas

I know better now. I never plan too much for Christmas and New Year.

In previous years, putting too much effort into the planning of these events just heaped too much expectation on them. Come midnight, on New Year's Eve, I'd often be underwhelmed with the whole proceedings and resolve to simply stay in next year.

Then I discovered going away on old banger rallies for Christmas. Being on the road somewhere meant Christmas became just another day, only marked by what we didn't do.

We didn't eat Turkey, we ate canned ravioli heated over a camping gaz stove, or bought food from stalls of strange meats in Marrakesh.

We didn't decorate a tree. We decorated other people's cars with duct tape and silly hats.

We didn't stay gently tipsy all day, we drank hot tea from our car kettle and enjoyed it far more than a glass of fizz.

We didn't lose our temper with anyone, we found ourselves actually missing our families instead and phoned home to wish them a heartfelt Happy Christmas, rather than worrying about whether or not we could make it to lunch without an argument this year.

We didn't fester in a mound of presents, we hugged fellow travellers we'd only met a few days before and left it at that. (Well, maybe some of us used the seasonality to treat ourselves to a little light souvenir shopping in the souks of Morocco.)

And we didn't get ripped off on New year;s eve, we sat in the desert and watched fireworks thoughtfully brought along by a friendly pyromaniac.

I loved it.

But despite that, I find myself looking forward to this Christmas.

After everything that has happened this year, I am relishing the chance to spend Christmas and New Year with my family for once.

And the New Year sees us go to Holland, to visit a friend of Rich's and my family over there (my mother is Dutch and one of five children, my father is English and an only child; pretty much 95% of my living relatives are over there and I haven't seen any of them for eighteen months now).

So it really is a year for family. And I'm looking forward to that.

The irony is, my sister will be somewhere in the depths of Borneo. My brother will be in the snowy wilds of Canada. It seems that they have followed in my footsteps and deserted the family nest over Christmas.

I'll miss those two, sure enough. But I'm still looking forward to Christmas at home. With a family my size you can take two away and still be left with enough for a gathering.

And I'll be the only grown sibling spending Christmas with my two little brothers and my parents. I get to spoil the boys and in turn, be spoilt by my Mum and Dad. What's so dreadful about that?

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