In the UK, it starts to feel Christmassy as soon as the clocks go back and the nights start drawing in. It’s dark when you leave the house and it’s dark when you come home. The Christmas lights dazzle in the drizzle from the extravagance of Oxford Street to the fairy lights in the neighbours window. When I think of Christmas I think of the cold and the snow and the smell of pine needles. Which is why, since moving to Australia, the Christmas spirit has totally evaded me.
December seems to creep up on me. Yes, there are decorations, but to me they are so utterly incongruous that they may as well be invisible. I don’t expect to see them, so I don’t. It all feels a bit odd. Like we are pretending that it’s Christmas.
This year however, I have my very own ‘little helper’ to remind me what Christmas is really about. G has been pointing out the decorations in the streets and shop windows with excitement and wonder. “Star!” she exclaims pointing wildly at a lamppost as we walk past. At first, I don’t have a clue what she’s on about and assume I’ve miss heard her. “Yes, G” I answer. But then she points again and insists “STAR!”… and what do you know?! She’s right. There are stars lining the street. There are brightly coloured flags, there are trees and lights and little G loves it.
I start to see it through her eyes. G doesn’t know about the cold and the snow and the dark. She hasn’t the first clue what ‘Christmas’ is either, but, hey, she knows there is something going on.
Earlier in the week I took the girls into the city. I carry baby C in the sling and let G walk, she holds my hand and hops up and down as we amble towards the bus stop. Once on board we sit ourselves down and G happily waves at the other passengers “HI!” she says. Then we sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ (no points for originality, but an entertained G is better than a bored G. Especially on a bus). We’re still singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ when we arrive at our stop 20 mins later.
We have a look at the big Christmas tree in Martin Place (“Oooo! TREE!!”) and then walk up to David Jones department store to see the Christmas window displays. G was beside herself. She pressed her little face up to the window and pointed out all the things she could see. When we get to the window with the Santa display I crouch down to G and point at the puppet Santa dozing in a rocking chair. “That’s Santa!” I say.
G gazes up and smiles “Santa!” she repeats. I love the way she says it, she makes it sound magical! She has awe in her little voice, her eyes light up and then, out of nowhere, I have a lump in my throat.
Suddenly I’m filled with childhood memories of trips to London to visit Santa at Selfridges (and singing carols outside Selfridges waiting for it to open because we got there at the crack of dawn to miss the rush) and decorating the tree and making Christmas cards and baking mince pies. And I realise, it doesn’t really matter if I feel Christmassy or not. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my children. And all the children.
Christmas carols filled the air and my precious girl began to dance. And I danced too! I may have had a few odd looks but if I did, I didn’t notice – I was too busy recapturing the Christmas spirit and having fun with G.