Celebrating Australia Day 2006: the marvellous transformation from hostess to hag
Australia Day is my favourite holiday/celebration by far. Sure, it marks the arrival of Europeans and the subsequent decimation of our indigenous people, but as far as having an excuse for a celebration, it rocks. It's far enough away from Christmas and New Year to stand on its own. In a country where its currently in the stinking hot range, it is a great marker that the year is getting underway, school is about to go back and come on peoples, off the beach and back to work. We normally have a gathering of some degree. I forget what we did last year and whatever it was, I didn't take any photos so who knows. This year we were expecting up to twenty adults and seeing as we move in a vortex of breeders, about a bazillion children aged from around 8 to Jasper at 3 months. I was excited, I was prepared. Everyone came, even some friends we haven't seen for months and who I miss so much it almost makes me ache. Then I got cranky, really wanted to vacuum, was amazed at the rudeness (its mischievous at 3, precocious at 5 and rude at 8 OK?) of some friends' children and really wanted to vacuum some more. Then there were snags and rissoles on the barbie, potato salad, a Greek come paesanella salad (I always mix cultures), bread and a chilli onion jam I had made. And a whole lot of sand in my house. This is a) not surprising, we live about 200m from the beach and have a sandpit in the backyard and b) completely unavoidable when children come over to play. I really wanted to vacuum. There was pavlova for dessert topped with cream, strawberries soaked in a little cointreau, mango and passionfruit. DIVINE. But after about an hour of everyone being there and having a great time, I really wanted nearly all of them to go home. I was consumed with a desperate urge to vacuum. Did I mention this? Some children belonging to others really started to irritate me. Some parents inability or unwillingness to keep their kids in check really annoyed me. I really wanted to vacuum. I basically became - internally mind you - cranky as all hell. That is it, I thought, I have become a crone. I have no idea where this came from or why. Maybe because I was tired from too many late nights? Maybe too many half-started conversations? I am the entertainer. Large parties, lots of people, great food, flowing booze, good time had by all. That is me. So this ill wind caught me by surprise. Mind you, it was not helped by Chef jumping in the car with some of our friends at the end of the day to go off on a night golf venture with some of the guys. Yeah, after a full day of a full house he left me with a trashed house, two exhausted children needing dinner, bathing and bedding and a baby. To play golf. You should have heard the screaming the next day. No more miserable days of silence for me, if I'm pissed you are going to hear it loud and clear. And probably from as far away as Manly. Anyway, am I getting old? Is this what it's like, general disgruntlement and short tempered irritation at your friends' kids and even your friends? Regardless of why, my days of large scale entertaining like that are done. No more. At least, not until all our kids are old enough they don't come over and do things like play in my bedroom with an icepack they took from my freezer without asking and left under my pillow so my bed and pillow were soggy when I finally crawled into it. When they're old enough to steal alcohol and spew outside in the gutter, sure! But sand through the house and icepacks under the pillow? Get out, GET OUT all of you, I say. Cranky schmanky old woman sitting here typing r.i.g.h.t. now. Anyway, from now on, its just one or two families over to visit at one time. So I can sit and enjoy it too and not care about the house like I normally don't when friends come over to play. The End. Postscript: to those friends reading this who were here, it wasn't any of you. Post Postscript: I realise the opening pick could be viewed as a lovely satirical comment at how Australia Day must look to those refugees in detention but it wasn't actually intended as such, just a photo Felix took of the flags he erected to celebrate the day.