Somewhere around early October I began to notice Christmas paraphernalia appearing in the stores, which led to my usual, wildly unhinged “Will I or won’t I?” about decorations.
My mother always loved Christmas the most, but now she has passed away, and my boys are grown up, I swing between being a total Grinch and wanting to skip Christmas completely, to soaking up the northern hemisphere/egg nog/snow vibe in the local Pottery Barn, and buying knitted wine-bottle covers featuring reindeers in Santa hats.
I read that people who put up their decorations early are generally happier than other people, but having watched many, many episodes of Hoarders, I’ve noticed that they always have extreme amounts of Christmas crap next to the mummified cats, and I’m not detecting happy.
The boys now cautiously ask me around November: “Are we having a tree this year Mum?” My snappy reply will be either: “No, it’s a stupid waste of money, a contrived and disingenuous marketing ploy designed to make vulnerable people feel unhappy”, or: “Hell yes, and let’s go visit the Christmas windows at David Jones.”
Since Mum’s gone, we’ve had real trees, plastic trees, miniature trees and no tree. I once went through a dark period in the Christmas decoration department at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and bought Georgia O’Keefe-inspired tree ornaments including bleached cow skulls and a creepy feathered owl.
But I now have a three-year-old goddaughter, Harper, and she is a game-changer. I took her to Target on a practice run, to choose a Halloween costume. The Halloween stuff was sitting side by side with all the new Christmas arrivals, just adjacent to the girls fashion department.
The dear little poppet was receiving so many mixed messages she decided to dress as a scary Christmas cat in a witch’s hat, with glitter hair elastics.
I then realised that Harper was the key to putting all the fun back into Christmas, so I suggested she and I pay a visit to the Christmas decoration department in David Jones, which is like wonderland to a three-year-old (and me).
Whoever was in charge of ordering the Christmas merchandise this year needs a pay raise, they were so off the charts nuts. Yes, there were packets of chic designer bonbons, wooden toy soldiers, nativity scenes and beautiful fir and holly-strewn wreaths for the front door. But there were also glittering baubles in the shape of a peeled prawn, a half an avocado, a bulldog in a knitted vest, a hula dancer, a suitcase and a rat.
Harper and I stared in amazement at every one of them, icicles, shells, ballerinas, crabs, fish and Eiffel towers. The sheer randomness was inspirational. I bought about a dozen and popped them in my bag without her seeing, and then asked her to choose her favourites.
After much super cute deliberation she settled on a hot pink hibiscus and a unicorn. I’m now plotting our next date when she helps me put up my tree and we unwrap all the new crazy decorations together. I might pull out the owl. Christmas is back.