Ezy Reading: Of Drunken Santas, Tree Dramas, and some Cheeseball Sentimentality from Yours Truly

Evan Kanarakis

I love Christmas. Sure, we can talk about all the phoney or forced sentiment. The rampant commercialism (and requisite charging hordes of angry shoppers). The ultra-cheesy Christmas specials that swamp our television airwaves every year with the latest winner of 'Global Idol' tearing out a crooked rendition of 'The Little Drummer Boy'. Drunken Santas reeking of rum and scaring children in shopping malls everywhere. And those really annoying plastic reindeer horns that seem to re-emerge on shameless people's heads every year.

But away from all the more miserable aspects of your standard holiday season, there is something to love about a time of year that 'even if it is somewhat forced upon people' encourages acts of goodwill, kindness and generosity. Now yes, of course it is shameful that some need a holiday to be reminded of behaving like decent human beings, but if you can only get two weeks of joy out of some folks, I say it's better than nothing. Add to that, I always bought into the whole Christmas shebang. As a kid I'd keenly open advent calendars throughout the month of December, and would hardly be able to contain myself on Christmas Eve in anticipation of the fat guy's arrival that night with goodies.

Today I love heading home to Bathurst to spend time with the family, I love Christmas carols played ad nauseam, I love opening presents, and I see nothing wrong with gorging myself on turkey until I pass out. I look forward to the annual argument with Mum that ensues while we're trying to position the Christmas tree in the living room. As Dad and my sister conveniently seem to be busy with something elsewhere in the house, I always get the thankless task of spearing myself in the eyes with pine needles while gripping the middle of the tree and, amid a stream of curses, asking 'Is it straight yet? Is it bloody straight yet?!?' Eventually, after taking fifteen minutes to tell me why next year we're getting a plastic tree once and for all (we never do), Mum and I resolve that the tree is never going to stand alone 'let alone stand straight' without fifteen metres of twine and a complicated pulley system holding things together. Anyone walking into our house at Christmas inevitably needs to spend half their time ducking between tinsel-decorated reams of support-string that fan outward from the tree and towards curtain rods, doorknobs, bookcases, and anything else which might offer a tying-off point. All this fun and I still haven't even mentioned our annual Christmas Day movie'watching ritual wherein my father demands that the slow parts of all videos on the VCR are fast forwarded as he's getting bored and sleepy, only to demand five minutes later an explanation of exactly what the hell is happening (TIP: The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense do not make ideal Christmas Day video candidates for my Dad. Trust me. Trouble's brewing...)

For mine, however, one of the greatest Christmases I had the good fortune of enjoying came way back in 1988. Opportunities to visit our family overseas were really limited when I was growing up, but in 1988 we made it to Boston to spend the holidays with my mother's large extended family in the U.S. Not only had it been almost five years since we'd seen the family, but everyone was in fine form. We were all lucky enough to be healthy, happy, and together, and at least in my eyes, those two weeks over Christmas and New Years in 1988 were an elevated experience well removed from any considerations of presents, food and unnecessary festive frills.


I'll never forget my grandmother Helen, the matriarch of the family, seated in the living room with a pile of unopened presents in her lap and at her feet. As content as I ever saw her, she sat, silently, and calmly cast her eyes across the room and the many children, grandchildren, sons and daughters-in-law and friends whose laughter and good spirits filled the house. It doesn't matter what dark times may have come before that day or came after, because at the very least I know that she had that one day. That one special day that filled her with enough joy to last a lifetime, and left in me a thrill and a sense of wellbeing that would last a hundred Christmases and beyond. It was pretty damn cool.


So amid the gift-giving, turkey stuffing and, perhaps, elaborate explanations of B-movie plots, I'd like to offer the somewhat sentimental wish that you might well experience the kind of buzz I found back in 1988 this Christmas, and on every other day of the forthcoming New Year.

Ezy Reading will be back on the 10th of January.