(I wrote this a few days ago. Am no longer on a train, Victorian public transport isn’t that bad.)
I’m on the train again, heading back to Wangaratta.
We’re hosting a family Christmas this year, which will include the third misc-annual running of the Rodapica Cup. The cup, for the uninitiated, is just an excuse for my father and uncle to hit golf balls at the house while drinking Jim Beam.
Christmas has snuck up on me this year. Or rather, this year has snuck up. Perhaps that old cliché about journalists and deadlines is true of life as well as work. This year has wooshed past me with alarming speed, and the events of the past 12 months alternatively feel like last week or five years ago.
(Rain is running across the train windows. Victorians may be sick of living underwater, but I have been perversely pleased by all the photos of Yogi swimming. It’s a Wangaratta tradition to measure the flood waters by how high they have crept on the old Yogi Bear spring seat, and he has lived up to the prolonged waters admirably despite getting out of practice in several years of drought.)
I suppose as an adult I should be using my Christmas holidays to backpack around South East Asia or visit London. But instead I’m going home, to help Mum with the frantic we-have-guests window washing and lawn-mowing duties and try to stop the three-legged cat from climbing the Christmas tree. My sister and her fiancé are using the break to make jam for their wedding favours, so we’ll probably go berry picking. And on Christmas day we’ll all put on our best clothes to sit around at home, drinking wine from 9am. And no-one will roll out of bed before then, because Christmas is the one day where you can legitimately sleep in without feeling guilty.
I almost wish I still felt the same excitement on Christmas Eve now as I did as a kid. When I was in primary school, we lived in a house that had an adjoining door between mine and my sister’s bedrooms. We were under strict orders not to leave our room or make noise before 7am, so we would drag our Santa sacks over to the door and sit, each on our own sides, comparing goodies for two hours until the curfew was lifted. Now the only thing that makes me too excited or nervous to sleep is a job interview, and the most interesting thing about Christmas Eve is a trip to the local pub to run into the same old faces that you haven’t seen since December 24 last year.
But so long as I have Christmas at home, I can pretend to be a kid for two weeks a year. And there will be jam tomorrow.