Kat felt a growing sense of joy, perhaps even euphoria, as she considered the meaning of Christmas 2020. She always enjoyed this time of year, with all the decorations, the excuse to buy gifts and specialty foods, cards and wrapping, new decorations for her tree and lights to string up outside.
This year there was even more reason to celebrate, with the easing of restrictions, and finally a chance to celebrate all the special occasions they had missed throughout the year due to COVID-19.
There was Easter, ANZAC Day, Mother’s Day, Queens’ Birthday, Father’s Day, the football Grand Final, several family birthdays, even the Melbourne Cup and Halloween. All those special times she’d missed spending with her family. There was a TV ad about making this year’s celebration bigger than Christmas, but Kat was convinced she’d thought of the idea first.
There was so much to do to get ready. Gift buying was easy. She’d been doing it online all through the year. She had something for everyone, and for every occasion. The unpacked post boxes were stacked almost to the living room ceiling. Those sturdy boxes would come in handy someday.
Bill had been persuaded to go in search of the essential decorations. If this year was going to be bigger than Christmas, at least Kat was ready. Luckily she had labelled the decorations by occasion before putting them away for safe keeping in the shed. It took a while but by the end of the day Bill had found them, but not in the shed where he’d been told to look. “Someone” had moved them to the garage.
The following day, Bill’s work continued. From the carefully labelled boxes Kat produced Easter decorations, football scarves, plastic pumpkin buckets and giant polyester spiders, Happy Birthday banners, glittery cardboard horseshoes and so much more. Kat gave detailed instructions about where each ornament should be hung, strung or draped. Bill’s knees suffered as he manoeuvred up and down the ladder but it was good to see Kat with a purpose and a twinkle in her eye.
The front yard, usually full of Christmas lights, statues and inflatables at this time of year, was crammed with additional decorations from the other occasions through the year. Kat felt it was a beacon of hope as a gift to her community. People stopped to take photos as they walked by and laughed as they moved on. It gave her a lift to see them obviously enjoying her display.
Kylie, Bruce and Tiffany dropped in unexpectedly on the weekend. “Mum, what on earth have you done with the decorations?”, Kylie asked, eyes wide and jaw dropped.
“Isn’t it great?!” was Kat’s reply.
Kylie knew there was no point bursting her mum’s bubble. She had more important things to discuss.
Kylie cleared a place on the sofa while Bruce and Tiffany made themselves scarce. Kat sat in “her chair” and Bill perched on the arm.
“Mum, Dad, I know you were planning a big over-the-top Christmas this year, but we’ve decided we want to keep it simple. This year’s been hard on us all. I just want to spend time together and not worry about everything having to be perfect. I hope you understand.”
“Of course!” Kat and Bill agreed.
“That means no big fancy hot dinner. We want to just have a low key picnic in the park.”
“Oh” was all Kat could muster.
“And it means no gifts. We’re trying to teach Tiffany that you don’t need more stuff to be happy. This year we’re just donating to charity. I know this is going to be hard for you but I hope you’ll respect our wishes.”
Kat’s eyes welled up. “But I’ve already bought lots of presents. Tiffany deserves to have nice things. I want her to remember this Christmas as a happy time.”
“That’s what we want too Mum. If you really want to give those presents, give them to a charity that needs them. We’re encouraging Tiffany to give some of her old toys away too. There are plenty of families doing it hard this Christmas. We’re ok, we could work through the lockdown, but now we’re exhausted. We want a simpler life.”
Bill’s hand rested on Kat’s tense shoulder and he felt a shudder as she held back tears. Kylie could see the light had gone from her mother’s eyes. Tiffany who’d been lurking, came to give grandma a hug.
“It’s ok Grandma”, Tiffany said, “I really don’t want any new toys this year. I want to help the other kids who have nothing.”
Kylie was proud of her daughter. “See Mum, we can have a lovely Christmas just being together in the park. No need for all the extra work.”
Kat shook her head. “But Kylie, that’s not the meaning of Christmas.”
Tiffany looked around the cluttered living room. “Grandma, why are there Easter eggs hanging in the window?”
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here…