Saturday, 3 January 2009

Ding-Dongs Merrily On High

Hi, long time no write. Here's one I wrote earlier and didn't post, for whatever weird reason I can't remember now.

Good Christmas? Happy New Year?

In Casa Swearing Mother Christmas and New Year went predictably, which is both a good and a bad thing. On the positive side, we were all together, had enough (more than enough, in fact) to eat; a warm, clean and cosy home in which to enjoy the holidays and on the whole, we did. On the negative side, it's always difficult to keep the peace between people who rarely spend more than a couple of days together and, although devoted to each other as much as humanly possible, have the capacity to get up each other's noses without very much effort at all, season of goodwill or not.

In our family, we are argumentative. We are very rarely bored or boring. Everyone has something to say and fights to say it, usually in a good humoured way but sometimes it can get a bit out of hand. We can argue about anything and everything, from leaving the bathroom light on to the state of third world economics, and back again via "who the fuck moved my keys?" I'm not sure quite why it happens or how the niggling starts but I think it's something to do with kids returning to the fold and regressing back to patterns of childhood despite the fact they are now grown up, and we as parents forgetting to back off and let them be the capable adults that they actually are. That's theory number one anyway. And then there's the other problem; we olds think we know best because we always used to, way back when our kids took any notice of us, but now our grown-up children are filled with knowledge far greater than ours about a variety of subjects I don't necessarily give a toss about, which can and does breed a certain amount of intolerance at times. Yes, I am concerned about global warming but not enough to worry about it when I'm trying to cook Christmas dinner and chopping carrots in the dark because someone switched the frigging lights off in an effort to save the planet.

I admit to being very small town in my attitudes. When my son says he's got something serious to discuss with us, my heart leaps into my mouth and I think "oh shit, what's up with him?", when actually he's worried about the Palestinian Israeli crisis. Phew. I feel guilty at my relief - so that's all, I think, thank goodness for that. I realise my margins are set way too narrow and that I must appear infuriating and insular, but first and foremost I am relieved that he is OK. I really do care about those who suffer but my sphere of influence is small and my own family is at the epi-centre of it. The rest of the world has to get in line behind them for my total devotion and compassion, and I make no apologies for it. Yes I do care about the starving millions, global warming, the homeless, the victims of violence, the fight for democracy and so on. And so on. But there are those about whom I care more, heated discussions or no.

So, although it would be an exaggeration to claim that the home front was a bit of a war zone this Christmas, let's just say there were times I wished someone with a harmonica would start playing "Silent Night" and instigate a kick-about conversation in the comparitive safety of the neutral no-man's-land of small talk. Or that predictable conversational landmines could be skirted around instead of being deliberately triggered with both feet (husband) just for the sport of it, or some hapless idiot (me) would refrain from unintentionally lighting the blue touchpaper. And, in fairness, maybe it would help if the junior snipers didn't have such touchy trigger fingers when it comes to other people's opinions.

After reading a few articles in various papers and magazines about family rows at Christmas, it makes me wonder why sometimes families find it so much of a challenge to be together over the festive season, more than any other time of year. It's especially sad when so much effort has been put in to make it perfect, but maybe that is the problem - do we invest so much time, money and effort into a few short and precious days together that if it doesn't work out exactly as we'd like, trouble ensues? I wish I knew.

Generally speaking though, we had a happy Christmas and New Year and now we've gone our separate ways once more until the next time we all get together and wind each other up again. It was good to have a houseful and, looking on the bright side, mercifully we didn't actually throttle each other.

But it was close.

Happy New Year everyone and peace be with you (especially you, Gaza).

It seems such a long time ago now, but if you can still remember Christmas and New Year, how was yours?