This year’s effort and I’d just like to make a disclaimer. This is pure fiction. I was trying to get into the mind of a teenager and have fun with it. It’s only short.
My mother always told me youth was the best time of my life. What did she know? Hell to the no – nothing. And Christmas simply oozed with the worst experiences of my paltry existence.
The morning had been tolerable. Just my mother and I opening presents. Then I’d disappeared to my room for some much-loved Buffy. Now, lunchtime neared and the time to chew off my right arm neared. At least, it posed more fun. And tasty.
There was a ‘knock, knock’ on the oak of our front door.
I opened the door to a Great-Aunt I only saw once a year, who waddling through and held her arms open, “Come ‘ere, dearie.”
I slinked into her suffocating hug and screwed up my nose.
Outside, the sun beat down and I sincerely doubted she’d remembered deodorant. God love her. I mean, how flipping thoughtful.
“Gosh, Tess, you’ve positively shot up!”
“Ye-“ I started.
And that was it – she was off. She brushed past me, but not before her dress clung to me then pulled free, as she headed down the hall and towards the kitchen. My mouth fell open. The rudeness still got to me every single flipping time. For, I’d bet money on that being the maximum of interaction I’d have all day – Thank God. Yet my mother, in her infinite wisdom, made me promise to sit through all Christmas dinner… a pork hot roast on a hot day.
Later, the house became an extension of the oven. Whose bright idea had a hot roast been?
Lunch dragged, dragged and dragged. So, I tried to make conversation, in an effort to alleviate the boredom:
“My teacher left-”
“That’s sad, dearie. Browyn, did you hear? Great Aunt Edith broke her hip?”
“Why, that’s positively dreadful!” my mother said, as she pulled a popping and bubbling pork from the oven.
“And you remember Cousin Peter? Well, he’s off to Thailand in March,” my Aunt frowned.
“Ooh, that’s exciting.” My mother kept her eyes on each roast vegetable as she spooned them onto our plates.
“And why is that exciting, might I ask you?” My Great Aunt stretched to her full height. “Why on earth go to Thailand, of all places? Why not go to… somewhere like, say, New Zealand?”
“I suppose they wanted-”
“Tess, dearie,” my Aunt scowled this time as she faced me. There wasn’t a trace of “dearie” in her voice. “Haven’t you heard? Children should be seen and not heard. Did I even ask you? I was speaking to your mother.”
I hung my head. “Sorry.” Flipping get me out of this nightmare, I thought.
I zoned out as the discussion turned to politics. Bloody politics. Could anything be any more exciting? Not. Watching grass grow would be more interesting. On Mars.
Finally, my Aunt stood up to leave. “Until next year.”
Can’t you make that five years? I thought.
Fast forward thirty years and my own kids are whining, “Do we have to?”
I relent, after years of torture.
They appear like cockroaches who come out of their rooms, eat, then vanish to the four corners of my house. Technology. Oh, what joys. Christmas day has become a lonely affair for me. My parents moved to Broome and my Great Aunt died, so it’s just me. The children’s father long since disappeared in the night.
And the kids no longer want to eat with me. They’d rather their teeth pulled out.
In hindsight, I’m reluctant to admit it, but my mother had been right. Youth was the best time of my life, but nothing will make me see how the torture of Christmas Day can be lumped in with those times.
I’d rather sit here alone than force my kids to do something they don’t want to do.