The Pointy End Of The Christmas Tree

“In two more days,” Miss5’s sing song voice floated up from her bunk this morning, “it’s Christmas. In three more days,” she went on merrily, “it’s Sophie’s birthday.”

Isn’t that nice, I thought. Of course she’s excited about Christmas, but to be equally excited about her sister’s birthda-

“In four more days it’s a normal day. In five more days it’s a normal day. In six more days it’s a normal day,” she went on in a very monotonous tune which had the effect of sounding like an odd scratched record where the words changed slightly with every repeat.

I wondered where the hell this song was going, and hoped it was only as far as New Years.

With only two sleeps until the big man in red delivers our kids their prizes for being good this year, we’re at the point of our family tradition where I don’t get to spend much time with my wife. We both have our roles to play and, while they’re on the same team, they’re at different ends of the field. I’m on distraction duty while she’s at the shops trying to make dreams come true without resorting to putting ‘Santa’ in the red. Even at night, she’s on wrapping while I take up guard duty – a far more active role in a bus than it used to be in a house with separate rooms and the ability to lock the odd door, I can tell you.

Suffice to say, with so many kids, we’ve been up pretty late the last couple of nights making sure everyone has about the same in terms of the holy trinity of Christmas gifts – actual money spent, visual comparisons and perceived value. It’s a balancing act which traditionally has Tracey ducking out at the last minute to pick up the odd item or six to even things out.

But it’s worth it, isn’t it? We think so. Every cent. Every lost minute of shuteye.

I love the atmosphere in the bus at the moment. We’ve got a tree up on the dash and another in the gazebo with a variety of childmade decorations and nicer decorations. This year the kids have added wishes to the trees, an idea they took away from the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. They’ve sewn their own Santa sacks this year too – something which is way left of field for this family. I have to give Tracey most of the credit for those.

“Did you buy these at Ikea?” I asked when she arrived home with the fabric. “Why didn’t you just buy made ones?”

But I was, it will surprise no one to learn, wrong. Making their own sacks has been a highlight of the build up to Christmas Day.

And then there’s the banter. I love listening to the kids trying to work out where we’ve been and what that might mean and for whom. I love them writing letters to Santa and dropping hints and ‘secretly’ getting each other to mention things to us which they think their brother or sisters might like.

And I love love love the expectation of waking up Christmas morning.

I was torn at this point between yelling at her to please be quiet so I could go back to sleep and not wanting to tarnish her excitement for the week ahead.

Pleased to announce, even though I was absolutely shagged, I kept quiet as Miss5 sang her little song. Tracey, fortunately, hadn’t moved and was still breathing steadily beside me so I decided to ride this one out and hope none of the other kids would wake up and called for an encore.

“In seven more days it’s a normal day,” she sang. “In eight more days it’s a normal day,” she went on, skipping past New Years without a second thought.

Sixteen normal days later I suspected where this was headed, but I had to wait another long and repetitive fourteen days after that – all of which were quite normal as well – to confirm my suspicions.

“And in thirty-eight more days,” she sang, eventually getting to her song’s kicker finale, “it’s myyyyyyy birthday.”

“If I find out,’ I thought to myself, getting out of bed to make myself a cup of coffee because it turns out counting days has the exact opposite effect of counting sheep and there was no chance I was going to get back to sleep, ‘which kid worked out how many days until her birthday I’m swapping out something of theirs for my pack of my gift wrapped hankies.’

Two sleeps to go until the first of three big days in Miss5’s calendar.

I can’t wait either.

Merry Christmas to you !!!

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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