That's Christmas done and New Year too and the last of the summer holidays uncurling before us. The weather is by turns spitefully hot and indifferently cold and we sneeze and sweat and fumble our way through the days and wonder when the work and the yoga classes and the preschool starts again, and there's all that gathering tax receipts and marking of new drinkbottles and delousing of still-long-curly-hair.
Tricky had a completely wonderful Christmas.
Two completely wonderful Christmases actually because C's parents were staying with us so he had a Big Boy Cousins/Gramma and Papa/uncleK/ auntyN type Christmas and then we went to my parents place and had a teeny girl cousin/many many aunts and uncles/aphwa and poppy type Christmas.
At the age of 3 and 5 months this was actually Tricky's 4th Christmas but for the other three he was asleep, screaming or perplexed.
Last year, to be fair, he did learn that the package wasn't just the exciting thing, you could actually remove the pretty coloured paper and discover something else inside. Like a large wooden structure and several bright metal cars. Last year some of his aunties and uncles got together to give him Uncle Paul's Garage Experience. This involved a plywood garage previously owned by, ahem, Uncle Paul, made for him many years ago by his dad, and now, repainted and fitted out with teeny tiny slightly suspicious looking garage attendants, and frequented by a great and impressive range of vehicles. As I type I can look out and see Uncle Paul's Garage, just by the farm and on the right side of the railway tracks. Cars and what appears to be a tiger are lined up for the superior handlings they know they will get from Slightly Suspicious Garage Attendant. This is a toy that gives and gives.
This year Tricky was given a great and wonderful array of items, some were things he asked for (cottoning on from his cousins that a time of bountiful goodness was on its way - depending on whether he was naughty or nice) and some were not.
I could bag on here about his favourites, the things that made his head spin and his eyeballs bulge (toy computer-like mummy and daddy, scooter and helmet - like Little Friend Sebastian) but why bother, Christmas is really for grownups since it's their money being spent and their livers being pounded by all that mulled wine and plum pudding vodka.
Here's what I loved best: the wooden chocolate set (because it's so cute when he takes the box around and chooses one for you) the wooden sushi set(because I think I have a thing for toy food and maybe I wanted all that when I was that age and didn't get it, not that sushi had been invented in Werribee at that time but come on what about a wooden smoked cod and mash potato set or a wooden devon and tomato sauce sandwich?), the button accordian - I love it! (Yes it was given to Tricky but I have hidden it from him while I try and work out how to play the theme from Amelie.) This funny wooden car that you pull apart and fit back together in different ways (it feels goooood), the Bugs Life special edition on dvd (those extras, wow! Comes with storyboard!) and on the cornucopia goes, a great swirling, gorging, mass of stuff.
There were other gifts too, things I also loved, probably even more than the wooden sushi set and they didn't come in a box.
I love that C for the first time in the history of our relationship wanted to get a Christmas tree and then bought one, one blazing hot afternoon, from KMart (a plastic tree being hallmark of both our childhoods) I loved that this would be our family tradition.
I loved that finally I could get out all the decorations I had been hoarding for years and put them on.
I loved that Tricky loved the Christmas tree.
I loved that he talked to it and he gently examined the decorations and was excited about the bells.
I loved that he called it a Kissmess Tree and he wished people a Huppy Kissmess.
I loved that he loved the lights and recognised that this was a special time where people come together and are 'huppy'.
And I loved that this was all enough, the tree and the lights and the stories - about Santa and about Baby Jesus and about the people who love him- and this was already enough Kissmess.
He was very happy and very excited and this was in the weeks before, he had no real idea about the morning, the Santa sack and the presents and the chocolates and the presents and the fizzy drinks and the presents...
That first present he actually opened (a wooden stiryfry set, yes alright, not nearly as successful)took ages, he savoured the paper and the way it felt beneath his fingertips and then he stared at the box and talked about the pictures and wanted to open it and play with it STRAIGHT AWAY and his father and I, beside him, in our pj's, hopping up and down in excitement saying "oh but what about that one, what about this one?"
"Christmas is NOT about the package," we try to tell him. "The paper, while pretty, is simply the exterior and it's what's on the inside that counts...oooh! Is that an accordian?!"
It's well into January now but there is still a weeny teeny touch of Christmas left in the house.
C in his frenzy of post yule cleanliness packed away, up under the roof, along with the plastic Kissmess Tree, the box that houses my collection of Baby Jesi. This year I had put them all out, all 23 of my Baby Jesus collection. Lining them up, seeing their chubby cheeks and rough looking robes, sorting the very ugly against the very pretty was a meditation of gratitude, a reminder that once, nearly four years ago, I had this collection out permanently, and the only baby I was likely to get would have to be nicked from a nativity set.
"Why did you pack that box away," I shouted at C. "IT WAS EMPTY."
"IT WAS NOT EMPTY," C countered, "I looked in it and there was stuff in there."
"Yes. Yes there was stuff, there was stuff to pack away the BABY JESI! Because they're fragile!"
I shriek this with the grace of a banshee and, oddly, C declines to get the box.
Cue much huffing and sulking and C feeling hard done by and me determined not to be the one to get into the roof and find that damn box.
Yes I can get tissue paper and yes I could use another box but that's the box I always used for the baby Jesi, the strikingly ugly red and gold present with garishly fake ribbon on top.
It's a box that says FESTIVE! and CELEBRATE! and FREAKY! but more than that it's a box I have used for over four years and in this day and age that's a tradition.
The contents may well be precious and meaningful, but in my heart I know, the package counts.