I had a bit of a ‘Falling Down’ moment this week. Fortunately for all concerned, our restrictive gun licensing laws prevented my fossicking around for the pink 5 Round 38 Special Smith & Wesson in my hand bag.
The weeks leading up to our annual festival of rampant consumerism had been, if I’m honest, unaccountably quiet. Despite the outer suburban fringe shopping centres, who festoon from late August as if for the final ever Christmas –
More incongruous skating penguins! Another forest of LED lit palm trees! A bigger grotto/sleigh/Jason Recliner for Santa Claus!
– it mostly just looked like people were kind of easing their way in a calm and orderly manner toward the 25th of December.
Then BOOM! Suddenly everyone noticed that their Advent Calendar windows were pretty much all open and there were only four compound chocolates left to devour.
I understood the general air of panic with its frenzied snatch and grab shopping. I tolerated the body bumps and queue jumping and forgave the impatient service of retail staff who still had their own shopping to do. I even managed to smile indulgently at the lines of hysterical toddlers refusing to sit anywhere near the strange man sporting the unconvincing disguise.
What tipped me over into William Foster territory, were the car parks. Battle grounds where the only clear winners were 4WD’s and Smartcars. Peak frustration was reached at Doncaster Shopping
Hell Town. I’d managed to find the last spot within the radius of the actual suburb and was feeling pretty damn chipper about it. Having met my employment obligations, I returned, ready to benevolently bequeath my spot to the least obnoxious incoming shopper.
Yes, harried mother of three in your Suzuki Vitara, though unimpressed with your choice of vehicle, I choose you to occupy this space , for it is Christmas and I am nothing if not giving.
Humming along to a commercial mash up of Christmas songs, I waited in a queue almost the length of the centre to get out of the car park. Twenty minutes and an avowal to avoid commercial mash ups of Christmas songs later, it was my turn at the boom gate of freedom.
The boom gate had blithely released all the BMW’s, Land Cruisers, Jeeps (suckers!) and ‘P’ Plated Suzuki Swifts ahead of me, but for reasons unknown decided that I was to remain on site a little longer.
There were no instructions on the screen beside me to suggest I owed a nominal parking charge, so I pressed the help button and waited.
I waited, along with a dozen or so cars lined up behind me. I waited as a woman in the lane beside me with a similarly recalcitrant boom gate, pressed her help button and was immediately released back into the wild. I waited as my fellow fed-up shoppers began to honk their horns and shout things out of their windows – things that did not seem to reflect the Christian sentiment supposedly abounding at this most holy of times.
I may have invoked the lord Jesus myself as it became apparent that Oz, or whoever it was occupying the car parking control room, was ignoring me.
And this is where shit got real.
With the help number still ringing, I ran across to the other lane and pressed that one too. I stood in the middle of the two lanes, swearing like a trooper and stamping my feet. Eventually a voice answered –
“yes? What seems to be the problem?”
Not knowing which speaker the voice was coming from, I stood facing a vehicular conga line of seriously pissed off drivers and yelled at the top of my lungs,
“THE GATE WONT OPEN!!!!!”
“What does it say on the screen?”
“IT SAYS NOTHING!”
“Are you sure?”
“WAIT, WHAT? OF COURSE I’M SURE! OPEN THE GATE OR WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A SITUATION!”
A situation. I said that. I was channeling every American TV cop I’d ever seen.
He opened the gate.
A driver in the next lane, oblivious to the drama beside her or misreading the glint of madness in my eyes, attempted to cut in front of me.
OH NO YOU DI’NT!
Again, be very glad, I was not packing heat, ‘cause she’d have gone down.
So there was that. But all things considered, it’s been a reasonably stress free lead up to the festive apocalypse. I’ve decreed that spouse and offspring should desist from buying me STUFF.
D2 did suggest posting me a homemade beanie or infinity scarf, knitted with love in the cold climes of Massachusetts, but agreed that in the height of an Australian summer, this may not be ideal. Dutiful D1 required some pointed threats about disinheritance should she succumb to the lure of a Dusk candle gift pack or Lavender hand cream, but seems to have the message now.
I have enough STUFF. Really I do, please don’t add to it.
Bio-mum will once more harness her innate ability to purchase exactly what I would never want and then fail to read the look of Really? This again? on my face.
To date: a bottle of Britney Spears perfume, a lilliputian cheese serving set, an equally microscopic set of rice bowls, several oversized madras check tea-towells, an ovoid serving platter with a chip in it, cheese knives – I’m unsure where her obsession with cheese originates – a duo of post use-by date flavoured olive oil, chocolate covered macadamia’s and a packet of pfeffenusse cookies.
Truthfully, I preferred the good old days when she gave me nothing but the vague hope of her eventual return.
Be careful what you wish for, right?
So, to my two never dull, occasionally vexing, always loving daughters, I say this; write me a hilarious letter in a home made card. Hang out with me over a coffee or, better yet, a glass of cold climate chardonnay at our local bar. Continue to make me laugh like a drain, entertain me like so few can and please, validate my years of shambolic parenting by not being an arsehole.
Merry Christmas! Now, I’m gonna give you to the count of 10, to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property, before I pump your guts full of lead…