It's the most wonderful time of the year, but what they forget to tell you is that the feeling disappears as you enter your teens and you spend the rest of your life trying to reclaim it.
I've been tearing my hair out (figuratively, my hair does not need any help departing my head) trying to figure out the secret of a magical Christmas. Christmastime growing up was wonderful. The anticipation in the weeks leading up to it was sometimes unbearable -- my eyes would feast on the colourful window displays and the somewhat garish but altogether brilliant lights that adorned our neighbours' houses. I knew all of the words to most of the well-known modern and classic Christmas hits, boasting with pride that Noddy Holder was from my neck of the woods.
I don't know exactly when it happened but that feeling went away. I haven't since been able to recapture it. And I want to. More than anything I want to be filled with Christmas cheer. I'm nearing the end of my twenties now and people tell me that it's just part of growing up and becoming an adult, that Christmas is really for children...
Well, I have a child and a cunning plan. I am determined to use this aforementioned child to help me rekindle my relationship with ole Saint Nick. My daughter was not a year old last Christmas and really had no idea what was going on. She barely opened the presents (which meant I got to!) and she certainly was not at all interested in watching the 'Doctor Who Christmas Special' with me.
This time, she's bigger, more lucid, and has had been indoctrinated quite heavily into my cult of Christmas over the past few weeks. So much so that she can identify a Christmas tree from a hundred paces and is very keen to tell anybody who will listen all about Santa and presents.
I'm trying to make it a magical time for her. I get a lot of gratification from seeing her little face react to things for the first time. I like to watch her take things in and then think about them, process them and try to apply context. I remember showing her 'Star Wars' for the first time... massive disappointment. She wasn't even polite enough to feign interest. This time it will be different.
Whilst I can't give her the Christmas I had growing up (there's a distinct lack of snow in WA at this time of year), I can give her a special Christmas that she will hopefully remember fondly when she gets older.
It's tough not having a lot of family around at this time of year. I am a migrant to Australia along with my wife and her parents. My daughter is fortunate to have one set of grandparents over here who love her dearly and would do anything for her, (I promise my wife has not paid me to say nice things about her parents, I've done this by myself without coercion), but I grew up with a house full of people at Christmastime. They ate to excess, drank till they were tipsy and told me the same old stories year after year until tiredness overcame them and it became a living room, open fire slumber party.
So how do I replicate that? We force our friends to be our surrogate family. My daughter has loads and loads of "Aunties" and "Uncles". Our closest friends are referred to with familial titles when they visit and they suddenly take on those roles. It's brilliant. If you refer to someone as "Aunty" or "Uncle", you'll be amazed at the things you can get them to do.
So this Christmas my daughter is guaranteed cards, presents and cuddles from the people she sees frequently and loves like family, which will go a long long way in making it memorable and special for her. And for the child in me.