Breaking with Tradition

27 Dec

I broke with lots of Christmas traditions this year.

  1. We celebrated on the wrong day;
  2. I did not spend Boxing Day at the shops;
  3. Square roots;
  4. We have finished our leftovers already;
  5. OMGHousework!

We had Christmas dinner with my family last Sunday, because my brother was off to his in-laws’. That meant that Christmas day was a quiet day spent at home – very much needed. After the kids woke us at 7.30 (we negotiated a “sleep in” till 8am although Fraser tried to introduce the Bigster to the concept of the oxymoron), we oohed and aahed at the Santa loot and opened the requisite one present each before showers and clothes were called for (no naked Christmas for us). Then it was phone calls with Sydney Auntie and grandparents as well as with Nanna and Grandad here, and more pressies. The girls did not even notice the missing trampoline-that-was-ordered-and-not-delivered – now we have to decide whether to go ahead with getting it after all.

A visit from friends who moved to Brisbane 6 months ago was great – the kids had fun playing while we ate mince pies and other Christmas treats. Then it was time for our lunch – I had roasted a leg of lamb and a chicken breast with couscous stuffing, with roast veggies and hot bread rolls. Yum!

After being up till nearly 3 and woken at 7.30, I was knackered, so I went for a nap while Fraser played some games with the girls/with the Bigster. Lazy dinner was the dessert we’d not had room for at lunch time – mini pavlovas and brandy snaps, custard, cream and frozen raspberries. OMG!

With the kids in bed, Fraser and I finished off the evening with a game of Dominion. OK, three. With the same cardset, which is fun. Fraser is not a fan of the chapel strategy and feels that it almost breaks the game – we may have to agree to play without Chapels, or to only chapel Curse cards when the two of us are playing.

Powerboats, too. More on this in another post.

Now my tradition for Boxing day is simple: SHOPPING! And this year, Myer were doing the amazing thing and opening at OMG FIVE AM! I think the  earliest I am usually in town is seven, but I make it count.

Well, before bed, as I went to set my alarm for five, I stopped to look at the Stocktake sale catalogue on the Myer website – and I was struck by something. I didn’t need anything. More to the point, I didn’t really  WANT anything. Sure, we need a new set of sheets for our bed – but we live round the corner from a great linen shop, I could just go there. Or wait – they don’t sell out of that stuff. And a couple of new tops for work  might be useful, but they won’t sell out of those either.

So I went to bed. Without setting the alarm.

Fraser: So what time are you getting up in the morning?
Me: Are you sitting down?
Fraser: Well, I’m lying down, does that count?
Me: I’m not going.
Fraser: I see why you asked whether I was sitting down.

The reaction may be explained that every year*, rain or shine, for the last MORE THAN TWENTY years, Boxing Day has found me at Myer stocking up on towels, cookware and work clothes (as well as anything else I needed).

* The exceptions were the year I was in the UK for Christmas (don’t remember what day the sales  opened but I was there), the year I was in Hungary for Christmas (first time I had seen empty shelves in a department store) and the year I was in Sydney for Christmas (shops don’t open till the 27th).

I was rewarded: Newspaper accounts say that there were over a thousand people in line for the Myer opening at 5am. Ugh.

Now my new leaf only took me so far. We did in fact go shopping on Boxing day – but it was useful shopping. Games have been piling up in the corridor and around the dining table, with nowhere to go. We headed for the temple of IKEA and, once we had filled up with Swedish Meatballs and bottomless red lemonade, we worked out what we needed.

We knew what it was that we wanted, kind of: Shelving for games. I wanted them in white, to keep a feeling of light in the dining room. And I had measured the space, but I didn’t know the dimensions of the bookshelves – which was where the IKEA catalogue came in handy.

The plan was simple: Three 40cm wide bookshelves, joined with a corner fitting. But would they fit?

Now we hit our first problem. There were no diagonal measurements in the catalogue, to show us what would happen when we angled the bookshelf. 

Solution: Easy! Let’s calculate it. Without a calculator. 

Squaring 40 is easy, but doing square roots in your head is less fun. We estimated – and realised that our Grand Plan was Not Going To Fit. Worse, we didn’t really have any wiggle room to put other shelving configurations. Would we have to leave in  the shame and ignominity of the new-game-shelf-less? No way! Because a Brilliant Idea was born: Instead of angling 40cm bookshelves into the corner, we would angle a 20cm CD rack instead and use it for card games. 

More square roots followed.

Then it was off to the display where Fraser successfully argued for medium brown shelves to match the rest of the dining room furniture, then back to the pick & pack area where we selected the flat packs (wow they were heavy!) and realised that there was No Way that they would fit in our car. Well, not with me and the kids in there, anyway. (In retrospect, this could have spawned a Public Transport Adventure – but in practice, it spawned a Home Delivery Adventure). Except the little half-height shelves that I persuaded him we OMGNEEDED at the last second.

Ready to leave, the Bigster discovered that she had LOST a gift card that someone had given her, and started howling. We were not particularly sympathetic, I am sorry to tell, because she has a habit of taking money with her and then losing it when we go shopping – the best so far was when she somehow dropped $10 in the car park at the supermarket. It’s incredibly annoying because she just takes it out and plays with it, then tantrums when it gets lost. We let her report the card missing and then headed for home, where we fought and successfully defeated the IKEA demons to assemble the little bookshelf. Then I got to arrange games, which is better than Folding Scarves.

Meanwhile, surprise surprise, we found the Bigster’s missing gift card. On the dining table, where she had left it.

Then I tidied the girls’ room, which involved throwing out lots of old paper rubbish, sorting the Bigster’s outgrown clothes, and filling a basket with laundry. They both “helped” which means they did what they were told to do but nothing more – which is a start, anyway – and earned the rights to watch the Dr Who Christmas Special. Lots of plot holes and a fairly dull final solution but very fun – and I did love Jeremiah and Rosita. Meh. Nursemaid.

We persuaded Vince that what was missing from his Boxing day life was some gaming, so he dropped round for dinner and games. More on these in another post.

Phone call at 9am today from the courier company to say that our new bookshelves would be here in half an hour. OMGYAY!

Some time later, they were assembled and put in the corner and attached together and filled with games! Wow! We still have lots in the corridor, but it doesn’t feel quite as overwhelming any more. And I have a Grand Plan that involves more bookshelves and then moving the bookshelf that covers the french doors out of the dining room and Fraser even agrees with half of it, although he mocks me for having said yesterday that we weren’t spending any more money. Sigh.

Gamed with the kids and with the Bigster. 

Then I started working through even more rubbish stuff to be sorted. Remember how I filled the new shelves with games? Even the 2m high CD rack, that I thought I would never fill with card games? And I had to work to fit them all in?

I found another box of games. Of card games that we like.


Guess we really, really need that other CD rack then …


Posted by on December 27, 2008 in house, shopping


2 responses to “Breaking with Tradition

  1. jon

    December 28, 2008 at 6:39 am

    How do you teach children the value of money? If she knew where it comes from, would she be less casual?

  2. melissainau

    December 28, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    It’s an interesting quandrary.

    I have read theories (and I tend to think they are right) that our increased use of plastic is to blame. Kids don’t see mum and dad actually earning MONEY, they don’t see us withdrawing it from the bank and budgeting with it – they just see us putting a card in the wall and getting MORE money. And when we shop, they see us hand over plastic.

    I’ve been trying to use cash more, not only for this reason, but I think I need to work more on the explicit value of what we earn and do.


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