Thank God it's only once a year!
Christmas in our clan starts in October. That's when the supermarkets start selling our wine of choice at a discounted rate. The word goes out to all clan members - there's a special on lindy at Countdown! Our Room 101 of Christmas Day is to run out of bubbles so we always mega-overcompensate.
Then there's the venue. Where can we fit comfortably and is there sufficient accommodation? With most of us living in close proximity we can congregate relatively easily.
For food, one person (usually the uber-organised younger sister) will send out a list. One person is in charge of deli chickens. One person is on snacks. One person gets drinks for the kids. One person is on vege duty. One person is on dessert. Two people chip in for the main course (usually pork).
Do we buy for the kids? The parents in the clan made a rule years ago that we would not buy for nieces and nephews after a certain age. But we do tend to contribute to Christmas stockings - in fact we probably spend more on those than we do on the real presents - is that a common theme?
On Christmas Day breakfast is at home, with partners and children only. Then during the day the gathering begins at the chosen venue. The first bottle of lindy is usually popped about 11.30am. We have been known to fit in some healthy choices like tennis games, mountain biking or a walk around the lake but it's not something you can count on. Dinner is a noisy occasion about 3pm. Cleaning up is usually done by me (with help from the younger clan members) purely as a matter of choice - I enjoy it and it beats cooking.
At some stage in the afternoon someone will demand a version of "Fairytale of New York" which we will all join in with gusto. If a clan member has not made it to Christmas at the chosen venue, we will Skype them about 5 pm. Trivial Pursuit may or may not be played.
Usually about 7pm Christmas wraps up. While it may have been a noisy, food and alcohol-driven occasion, it's also the only time of the year when we get together as a family. There will come a time when we will be raising a glass to the person who died during the year and wishing he or she could be here. We've had to do it twice and God knows, we'll have to do it a lot more as we all age. I'd rather enjoy our Christmases now than have to think back on what fun we missed out on when so-and-so was alive.
And of course, there's the Boxing Day brekky - always at the mother's. Large quantities of hash browns, bacon, eggs, toast and orange juice. The brave will face the Boxing Day sales, the rest will just mellow out, read the books or watch the dvds we got, and start planning New Year.