Kat conceded that it was nice to have Christmas lunch in the park after all. It meant she didn’t have to tidy the dining table. Besides, it was a good excuse to upgrade her picnic basket. She’d asked Bill to find her mother’s antique basket in the garage, which he had dutifully done, but it didn’t really make the grade for such an important occasion.
She found a lovely picnic basket online instead. It came with a leather wine holder and corkscrew. There was a red lining and matching napkins, and 6 of everything you need for a good meal. It didn’t come with those clever wine glass spikes that you poke into the grass to keep your wine from tipping over, so Kat found some online and added them to the basket.
She loaded in extra Christmas-themed paper napkins, Christmas crackers and a Christmas-themed loo roll. You couldn’t rely on there being enough in the park public toilets. Also, she wasn’t sure if the two pop-up mesh food covers she had would be enough, so she ordered a couple more online and hoped they’d arrive in time. They did.
She packed the little Christmas charms to put on the wine glass stems and the Christmas-themed clip-on weights for the Christmas tablecloth. She was coming around to the idea that this could be a good Christmas after all.
Bill took charge of the new portable grill and the portable speaker for the usual carols. Kylie and Bruce might have wanted simplicity, but Kat wasn’t going to miss any of her usual traditions.
Bruce said he’d bring the bocce balls but just in case he forgot, Kat ordered some new picnic games.
It was all coming together nicely. She dreamt of all the fun family memories these things would bring.
Kylie had declared she wanted no gift exchange, but surely she didn’t really mean it. Everyone wanted gifts at Christmas. It was just plain cruel to put Tiffany through that. On the special day, Kat piled the car with something special for everyone and looked forward to opening her own presents.
She and Bill arrived an hour early to set everything up perfectly. When Kylie, Bruce and Tiffany turned up, bringing all the food, Kat had already started on her second glass of wine and was feeling festive.
The meal was ok, not great, but Kylie insisted on doing all that. It certainly was simple – some cold meats, salads and fresh fruit. Where were all the trimmings? Where was the pudding and brandy cream? Bill needn’t have bothered with the new grill. At least Kat had brought along some shortbread. That saved the day.
As soon as lunch was over, Tiffany ran off to play on the swings while the adults played bocce. Bruce had remembered in the end, and Kat’s new games remained in their packages.
When the game was over, Kat poured another glass of wine and sat down to enjoy the traditional gift exchange. But Kylie started packing up and Bruce called Tiffany back to say goodbye.
Kat was aghast. “But we haven’t given out the presents yet!”, she exclaimed.
“Mum, we told you we weren’t doing that this year. We want to keep things simple.”
“Well, if you don’t want them, I’ll give them to someone who does.”, Kat huffed.
And that was it. Christmas Day was done, and so was the bottle of wine. Kat stayed put in her folding chair and let Bill pack the car to return home. It was a silent trip.
That night Kat sent a couple of curt text messages that let Kylie know just how disappointed she was. And the next day a reply came asking if Kat would be home so that Kylie, Bruce and Tiffany could come by.
Kat agreed, but only if they came early. She had a busy day planned. She didn’t want to miss the best Boxing Day bargains, but it occurred to Kat that they must have seen the error of their ways and were coming to exchange gifts after all.
When the young family arrived, they were empty handed but looked solemn. “Mum, Dad, we have some news we want to share. We’re moving to the country. This year’s been a big lesson for us. We realise that with our skills we can work from anywhere. We’ll be a valuable part of the community and really make our home there. Besides, once we sell our place, we can be almost mortgage free.”
Kat’s emotions took her on a ride from “where are my presents?” to “don’t leave me” to “I have some ideas”.
“Darling, you can get so much more for your money out in the country. It’ll be great to have a large property where you can really spread out. Just think of all the possibilities.”
“No, Mum. We don’t want a big property. That’s just more work, and we want a simpler, quieter life.”
“Oh, but you’ll need space for us to come visit. And all your grandparents’ heirlooms in the garage will finally have a place to go. Bill, you could take all your fishing magazines there as well. There must be somewhere to fish in the country.”
“Mum you’re not listening”, Kylie said, knowing all along that would be the case. “We won’t be getting a big place. We’ll be getting a small house. And we won’t be taking any of that old stuff with us.”
Kat was devastated. She and Bill had worked so hard all these years to give Kylie everything she needed to get a good start in life. Now she was throwing it all in their faces. Where were her family values? And would people think? With them downsizing to the country, it looked like they’d fallen on hard times.
“Old stuff? How can you call it “old stuff”? It’s family heirlooms. It’s years of memories. I’ve been holding onto it for you.”
“Well, I don’t need that old stuff to keep the memories. We want to move forward and enjoy our life without all the stuff and the burden of financial stress.”
Kat knew then she shouldn’t have bought them the Netflix subscription. That must be where they got all these new-fangled ideas. She knew how to help them simplify their life. She’d cancel that today.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here…