Hypothesis: 24 is the age when you become a fully-fledged adult, evicted from the shelter of the Young Adult category (sub category: poor choices, no hangover, minimum wage, ironic-peasant lifestyle). I felt this change wash over me at Christmas time when the stress of familial responsibility and seating arrangements finally outweighed the hedonistic joy of receiving gifts and eating glazed ham. This was the year of the three-day Christmas marathon.
Being a child of divorce has always been good to me as it’s meant two parents providing two of all the good stuff – birthday presents, Christmas feasts, Easter egg 12-packs – in an effort to stop us from ever feeling like children of divorce. At past Christmases we tag-teamed that merry bitch, chasing a big, boozy seafood lunch at Dad’s with one big, boozy traditional Christmas dinner at Mum’s. One full day of indulgence and then several days of sweating, fitful sleeps and digestive drama. Ahh the halcyon days of youth, they can never last.
I never understood why people hated Christmas and dreaded the whole ordeal when my Christmases were spent like a pig being shuttled between two overflowing troughs. But this year, the Chinese zodiac year of the Adult, I had my “partner” (read: bae) along for the ride and this doubled our Christmas responsibility.
My first Adult Christmas was a three-day meat marathon (the beasts were felled in this order: beef, pig wrapped in pig, prawn maybe?, chicken, turkey, cold turkey). Adult Christmas means buying expensive champagne for everyone and only drinking one glass yourself. Adult Christmas means buying presents for everyone else and being genuinely surprised when you receive presents in return. Adult Christmas means going to your boyfriend’s second-cousin’s house for Christmas lunch, sitting down right in the middle of a web of family tension and politely excusing yourself to fart and text in their fancy white bathroom every 20 minutes. It also means telling small, vague lies of agreement to bae’s extended family members just to keep the fraying peace. Adult Christmas means letting the kids eat most of the delicious sweet stuff and then secretly resenting them for being so greedy and immature. And finally, Adult Christmas means running late on the third day and imploring everyone to start without you, then arriving still 100% full of food and getting mad that the meal was, at your insistence, started without you.
It also meant driving to the Gold Coast on Christmas Day (terrifying, a lot of angry teens on the highway). This limited the amount of champagne drinking possible and increased the likelihood of having to sleep on a lumpy straw mattress while family pets try to mate with you (just like Jesus in the manger).
At each Christmas lunch we drank and ate and were lively, silencing the warning from our overwrought bodies: “This is really enough, no more meat, no more beer, PUT DOWN THE MERINGUE YOU FOOL!” Because that’s what Adult Christmas is: just making an effort. And perhaps taking a moment, when you finally lay your greasy, drunk head down, to be thankful that you got to spend Christmas with loved ones, ham and champagne because, in the scheme of things, it really ain’t that bad at all.