Christmas is absolutely without a shadow of a doubt my favourite day of the year by a country mile.
I’ve never, ever had anything less than a brilliant Christmas. I’m lucky in that all the factions of my family, while they may be scattered around in separate camps as a result of divorce and geography, are all just very good at Christmas.
And (almost) everybody likes one another, which I think helps.
So this year I celebrated the birth of Jesus in Australia with my father (AKA Patriarch) for the first time in about five years, and it was hilarious.
He has a different house to last time, and it’s plonked in the middle of the rolling Adelaide hills, about 4 minutes from the beach.
Christmas Eve was spent with my stepmother Jeanie (separate house) and my half-brother Jamie (14) and half-sister Lucy (16). I don’t really like calling them half siblings because they feel so full, but just for information purposes.
We had my full brother Charlie and our American family friend Christine over for dinner. Charlie is very eccentric and very clever. Christine is very stylish and also very clever (does something to do with Wall Street). Lucy and Jamie are so clever it hurts my head. Much cleverer than I am.
All four siblings count the meerkat as their spirit animal, so a large part of the evening was spent doing meerkat impressions and falling off our chairs laughing.
Then the teens went to bed, Charlie and Christine drove off, and I helped Jeanie with the stockings – which felt like sacrilege because I, like my dear friend Miss Lankston, still believe in the spirit of Father Christmas.
The next day, I had to drive the teens safely over to Patriarch’s house an hour and a half away. I hadn’t driven in three years and I’m a bit of spaz when it comes to operating machinery at the best of times, so Jamie had to sit in the front with me and help me deal with catastrophes.
There were three. The engine cut out, the navigation stopped working, and I got hooted at because I didn’t know I was allowed to turn right on a red light. We survived all three, while Lucy slept soundly in the back.
Christmas day consisted of: all the four siblings, Charlie, Christine, Patriarch, and his girlfriend Louise, who is wonderful.
We drank excessive quantities of delicious wine, exchanged presents (I didn’t have to fake elation once this year – they were all very thoughtful and on-target) and played aggressive card games.
We also took a very amusing voyage down to the beach for some ocean frolicking.
Then it was onto the eats.
Christmas dinner when you, like moi, don’t eat dead birds or dead pigs can be really tricky, because most Christmas dinners are smothered with corpse matter – even the potatoes (goose fat).
But Charlie very graciously made me potatoes not cooked in goose fat, special gravy without corpse matter swimming in it, and a selection of other remarkably delicious Christmassy treats, all sans murder.
Speaking of corpses, Lucy – who is a budding filmmaker and has already won shitloads of awards – did a really impressive thing.
I caught her sketching this quite complex map/set design thing one afternoon and I picked it up and inspected it, and couldn’t help noticing how freakishly it resembled the storyline of The Walking Dead.
Lucy has never seen The Walking Dead. She just came up with it. So I made her watch The Walking Dead, and now it’s a Thing We Do.
The only other Thing We Do, except for watch Zombies, play cards and consume things, is to take the dog (Mrs Perdita Shrimpton) to the beach.
This is what Mrs Perdita Shrimpton lives for. She whimpers hysterically from the back of the Jeep the moment she can smell the sand, charges off as soon as the boot opens, and then just races up and down the length of the beach over and over and over and over again.
Mrs Perdita Shrimpton doesn’t interact with other people or other dogs. She doesn’t stop at any stage. She doesn’t chase things. She’s far too busy dashing methodically from one end to the other.
And you can’t get her back to the car until she’s finished, which can take anything from 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes more. I admire her panache.
My next adventure will take me to Tasmania – an island off the south coast of Australia – for a few days over New Year’s. Generally I hate New Year’s, but I don’t think I’ll hate this one…