Those of you who know me also know how much I hate the whole Australian tradition of wearing thongs or more correctly, rubber flips flops, to work. Comfortable feet are happy feet but there is a time and a place for rubber footwear and during the working week in an office is not either.
It could be that this is because I have odd feet with vestigial little toes and more often than not forget to have a pedicure.
But the thing that puts me off about people wearing thongs to work most is the grimy feet factor. Sydney streets are no cleaner than those in any other city after all.
However, there are times that even I will relent and bung on a pair of thongs. Not to work though, I haven’t managed to overcome the ick factor of getting my odd wee feet out for public inspection yet. On weekends and public holidays, my feet receive Get Out of High Heels Jail free pass.
Today was Christmas Day.
Today my parents are here with me in Australia. The last time I hugged my father was 5 years ago. I last held my mum just after the Minx was born 3 years ago.
On this day two years ago my mum had just found out that she had breast cancer. From finding a lump to undergoing the panopoly of procedures that doctors have to use to destroy healthy and cancerous cells took about 6 months. The road to recovery has taken considerably longer.
It’s not easy watching someone’s illness unfold in emails and being stuck thousands of miles away with not enough money in the bank to fly back in case, just in case.
Sometimes it seems like the last few years have been chucked at me by some vengeful spirit out of complete ornery badness. Then I realise that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. My mum is living proof of this.
For me, without my parents, Christmas is empty, hollow, melancholy. My husband has been an orphan for the last three years. So my husband and I have learned to celebrate Christmas entirely for the sake of our children with our own burgeoning family traditions. Through time, our traditions, while not lifting the deep sadness that I feel being so far away from my family, have helped me to focus on looking at what I have, not what I am missing.
Our traditions include:
1. leaving out Oreo (R) cookies, milk and carrots for Santa or his formally appointed agents or representatives (they always leave a bit of a mess behind):
2. Going to Mass as early as possible to focus on the spiritual significance of Christmas and delay the frenzy of ripping and frenetic activity that gift unwrapping necessarily entails.
It is fair to say that I am the only one willing participant in this going to Mass exercise. The six year old, in particularly, starts asking loudly if it is time to go home yet from about 20 minutes in at which point I wonder whether getting him a set of Day of the Dead Rosary Beads might buy me a bit more time before dragging him out:
3. Home for breakfast of either pancakes or French Toast.
The 6 year old snarfled 5 slices this morning because “Grandma makes the best french toast in the world“.
5. Opening presents
while everyone of legal drinking age gets stuck into the port:
Between the port and Christmas dinner, anything goes.
Today anything was kite flying. There was no wind so we went for a bush walk instead. I was wearing thongs.
My feet were mockit when I got back and I didn’t care.
Possibly the best Christmas day celebration that I have ever had.
Now I am off for a bath.
Happy Christmas x
* Strictly speaking the Shoe Challenge is meant to be for work days only. Nothing like breaking with a few traditions though, right?
** Mockit is a great Scottish word for filthy, dirty and unwashed.