I’ve never been a massive Christmas fan, maybe it’s because my family has never quite pulled it together and it’s always been a tiresome day filled with obligation and generalised anxiety. That together with the bedevilled heat which I would enjoy so much more if I had a posse of friends (one of whom owned a pool) who I would go out partying with, enjoying the 40°C glow at our beautiful beaches as the sun goes down in a haze of nostalgia and heat stroke like those hipster surf bums on the Corona beer commercials, or the lackadaisical twenty-somethings always pictured in Summer music festival promotions. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the sun (I mostly don’t, the damn thing will sear your face off in my locale), it’s just that any hope of being able to enjoy it reminds me of my self-imposed social isolation and awkwardness that leads to me sitting under a barely functioning air conditioner tiredly rolling out air that keeps my computer alive ticking over while it churns out ASMR videos on Youtube that curtail my mild depression in favour of those fuzzy tingles which might come more naturally if I didn’t Grinch it up every summer holiday season as I drown in my bitterness at the middle class bogan population, as they bask in the glory of their successful recipes ripped out of their Good Taste magazines and gently soothe their hangovers in their monstrous air-conditioned bungalows as the sun bakes down on the sea of suburban roofs that hang above them. Phew!
Yeah. I’m no special snowflake, I realise a lot of people share my social awkwardness and unhealthy lamentation of how everyone else’s lives appear to be so jolly this time of year, but for some reason, in summer, everything falls apart for us. It’s too much expectation for us to bear and for many it is not the most wonderful time of year. So I sit, comatose, read junky chick lit and perhaps pull a few weeds and drag the dog to the beach. But otherwise I feel like I fail at being ‘Aussie’ and no shrimp go on my barbie at Christmas – we call them prawns anyway – my partner and I are vegetarian. Maybe if I had time to put my decidedly anarchic black tree up this year things might have kicked in for me festively speaking, but I have made resolutions to make a better go at it next year.
I do have a lot of things to be grateful for, all in all. And there has certainly been a ‘shift’ this solstice – Mayans or no. Maybe my Saturn Return has kicked over or some other New Age nonsense; but I am finally feeling my mortality. A decent chunk of my friends and sisters are either pregnant or trying. My body clock has been ticking but I have smooshed her in the back of my cerebral cortex as we decide to foster and adopt ‘fur babies’ instead. My favourite nanna, whose mother, my great grandmother, only recently passed away, is dying of cancers that have suddenly ravaged a once strong and robust woman in a matter of months. On Christmas Day I kissed her forehead as she slept and struggled to breathe, rueing every single year when I visit my family up in the hills for Christmas and I get admonished by her: ‘don’t be a stranger’… and I was. I was too ‘busy’ filling my life with things which just did not involve family. Every time I go up there, my childhood playground, I notice something else that changes. Someone moves and a beautiful garden dies. The creek that once gushed over rocks as we frolicked and got feasted on by leeches as we cooled our eight year old bodies has dried up due to the irresponsible practices of the American aluminium mining company that keeps the town otherwise alive. A favourite climbing tree is riddled with termites and cut down. Another favourite tree is determined inconvenient and cut down. Brown bricks get rendered with more pleasing white concrete. People die. Things change. We all move on. The wheel turns. I blinked back my tears as I made excuses for a post lunch nap, encouraged by my very tired aunties who have been working around the clock to look after nanna, one of whom has been battling a cancer of her own in the last few months. I felt sort of ungrateful, unhelpful and leftover; resolving to make some changes to my black sheep lifestyle.
I spent the very hot morning today – the day after Christmas – toiling in the sun ripping out daisy bushes from my front yard. I thought to myself about how much of gardening is as much about destruction as it is about creation. Things must die so new life can move in. I’ve had my ‘folded in’ year, and I chose to totally focus on roller derby and just do my job and keep my head down, teach, and skate. I refused to make an effort to say ‘yes’ or drive up to Perth to attend friend’s birthdays or little shindigs. I think it’s time to start saying yes again. I’ve been turning down the volume on all of my creative endeavours – almost giving up on some (mostly my art and my music) – I’d really like to turn the volume back up again. And I think it’s time to grip life by the balls and stop making excuses. I want to grow my own food. I want to cook wonderful things in my awesome new kitchen. I want to remind my friends and family that I really do care about them, and want to be spend time with them. I want to make joy and not simmer in my cynicism.
So consider this post my last hurrah to cynicism. I want to outfurl and bloom again. In a blink of an eye it will all be gone because I’ve forgotten to take opportunities and made excuses instead, because it was easier to cave in to my self doubt and depreciation of anyone, especially myself, who puts themselves out there for fear of appearing narcissistic or being let down by others. You get back what you send out, most of the time. It’s not always going to come knocking on your door.