“Mum,” I said bravely.
“This year I will be taking the boys to Learner Dad’s family for Christmas Day lunch.”
I rushed on.
“But we’ll come down Christmas morning and stay for as long as we can and we’ll try and see you Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, I’m sorry, I know how much Christmas means to you, especially with Li’l Fatty here now too…”
“Al, it’s ok,” she interrupted, completely unfussed. “I fully expected this to happen this year.”
Ever wondered who the woman is behind St Nick?
The real Mrs Claus?
Well, it’s my mother.
Think Christmas and, anyone who knows her, thinks of my mum.
For a start, she collects Santas, has hundreds of them.
Friends and relatives bring their kids every year to see Rossie’s Santas.
She was once nearly on The Collectors program with them, but chickened out at the last minute.
Although, as littlies, we’d spent Christmas Day at both my grandparents’ houses, for probably two decades we’d had it at my mother’s house.
Of course news never sleeps so I’d worked my share, covering anything from homeless lunches to drunken sieges.
But I’d bowed out of Christmas Day shifts when I became a mum.
And being a single mother to Master Seven meant I didn’t have to share it with anyone.
Then our family of two became one of four and our Christmas Day options doubled.
With three new babies in the mix on Learner Dad’s side, this year his family was determined to get everyone together.
And with my brother spending Christmas at his in-laws too, it worked out perfectly.
“What will you do when we all leave before lunch though?” I asked Mum, imagining her and Dad, he in his Santa suit and her as the elf, pulling bon-bons and swaying to John Lennon’s Happy Xmas, alone.
“Eat our lunch?” she said, clearly not as fazed as I’d imagined.
We’re lucky living in Hobart that it’s not logistically difficult to make more than one stop on Christmas Day.
I have friends who don’t live near one set of parents, let alone both.
I remember, as a child, loving seeing both sides of the family on Christmas Day.
Once the food ran out, presents dried up and you’d begun fighting with your cousins, you’d be bundled into the car to do it all over again.
Master Seven and Li’l Fatty will now get to experience that too.
And so long as I focus on that, rather than remembering the stressed look on the faces of my exhausted parents as they shuffled us around, then I should be ok.
Spending my first Christmas lunch away from the family home isn’t a case of all good things coming to an end.
My in-law’s house has felt like home for a long time.
It’s simply a case of having too much of a good thing.
For Learner Dad, it’s spending the day with people he’s known and loved all his life.
For Master Seven, well, it’s double the presents, isn’t it?
And for Li’l Fatty?
Well, let’s face it.
It’s really just another day.
Merry Christmas to all and I’ll be back on deck in the new year.