Christmas Eve has changed so much.
These days, it’s all about the kids. Buzzing with excitement at home. Refusing to go to sleep.
Not so long ago, it was party time. We’d be buzzing. Until someone sent us home, before we fell asleep.
It seems most of the people I’ve known during my life have had a need to socialise the night before Christmas.
Footballers. Punters. Police officers. Media folk. All with a need to find a cool drink on December 24.
Over time, this has caused problems. There are those who see Christmas Eve as a quiet time, for reflection and cooking. Like Mum. And The Treasurer.
They both got in on the act, during a balmy night in Bundaberg many years ago.
Mum, bless her, had come to visit. It was quite a trip, for a woman of advancing years, who had rarely been on a plane. She was determined to see my new home town for herself.
My mother would never have admitted it, but I think she may have also been checking up on her new daughter-in-law’s housekeeping skills. The newly appointed Treasurer seemed to be very aware of this.
I was under instruction to be home on time. There was much to do, and my help was needed.
The trouble was, I had made friends within the local constabulary. Important for a journo in a strange place. And they had decided I was worthy of Christmas Eve drinks.
From memory, they kicked off early afternoon. A never-ending stream of icy cold beers. And the local product. Such generosity.
They nodded with sincerity when I explained the predicament waiting for me at home. And thrust another drink in my direction. Of course, they had no fear of the two women watching the kitchen clock. Easy to be tough, when you’re carrying a gun.
I was unarmed when I finally made it home. Unsteady feet shuffled me into the eye of the festive storm.
In desperation, I decided that music was my only hope. Christmas music. I broke into tune, encouraging the girls to follow my lead.
One thing I’ve picked up along the way, is that it’s difficult to stay angry at a drunken buffoon in the holiday season. Especially if he refuses to stop singing. So it was, that they both joined in.
A rare victory, thanks to ‘Jingle Bells’.
Fast forward to a different house, in a different time. Young children, so happy. But this year, Dad wasn’t singing.
I had been given the task of assembling a trampoline, in the dead of a Brisbane night. Many of you are now laughing.
It was impossible. I tried. I really did. But the bloody netting wouldn’t stretch over the metal bits. There had obviously been a mistake in the Chinese trampoline factory.
My neighbour at the time, a polite man enjoying his retirement years, decided he should offer a helping hand. Possibly to stop the stream of foul language coming from our yard.
He brought with him tools I had never seen. Items that did the job, quickly and professionally. It was a Christmas miracle, eventually adorned with a green bow.
There have been similar scenes most years since. Bungled assembly jobs. Help from a variety of quarters. With cool drinks taken at home instead.
It will be no different this year. Except with Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, a man can have an afternoon punt as well. Yes, I’m already rehearsing ‘Silent Night’.