There are only two more sleeps to go! I have to admit that I think I may have failed miserably at achieving my dream Christmas. I had all the good intentions of the season but, as usual, I'm pulling it all together at the last minute.
I had grand visions of a stylised Christmas. I do this every year. But I think I may lack an innate sense of, I don't know ... style. Why does my Christmas never look like something out of a magazine?
My Christmas-mad friend has informed me that my first downfall is the lack of a "theme". Hers is "antique silver" this year. She has wooden vessels heaving with glass ornaments, burnished stars in her hallway and a tasteful sprinkling of bright white lights in her garden – solar powered, if you don't mind because, she says, nothing screams bogan Christmas more than metres and metres of electric cabling. Excuse me while I kick all my cords under the couch.
"A pavlova weighs nothing at all until you digest it and it magically becomes four kilos on your bottom" … Chrissie Swan. Photo: Julian Kingma
But, to be honest, I believe I actually do have a theme, although it may not be the focus of a spread in any publication apart from Hoarder's Weekly. I believe my concept of "anything goes" is timeless and evergreen, much like the real tree I've been meaning to organise every year. Instead, I have opted at the last minute to just whack up the free fibre-optic one I got once from a store called Kristmas Kingdom. Best gift with purchase, EVER. The great irony is that I bought some Christmas lights from said shop and my cat went to the toilet in the power pack as soon as I opened it. The free tree, however, lives on!
This year, I outsourced the wrapping of every one of my gifts and I highly recommend this. It saves you screaming at your loved ones on Christmas Eve, "GO TO BED SO I CAN DO THINGS!" And this time-planning windfall happened entirely by accident. I did all my shopping in one shop and when the shop assistant blithely asked, "Do you want all these gift wrapped?", I nearly launched myself over the counter and covered her in yuletide kisses, mistletoe or not.
I went and got a coffee and by the time I had returned everything I had bought was wrapped and trimmed in a way I could never have achieved myself, even with a whole evening in an empty house channelling home-style guru Tonia Todman.
I have made one Christmas resolution that I'm sticking to, though, and that is I'm only cooking or serving or eating delicious things I really like. For years I have squeezed a turkey into my oven, for what? I don't even like turkey. It's dry and weird. And so leggy I feel like I'm dining on Rhonda Burchmore.
But I do like prawns. And I love Moreton Bay bugs. And for 364 days of the year we never eat either. My family and I intend to eat so many of these crustaceans that we'll sprout whiskery things from our jawlines and have our customary afternoon siesta huddled together under a rock, keeping a glossy black eye peeled for predators. I'm going to have to throw berley in the pool water just to get the kids in there.
There'll be a pumpkin and couscous salad with a yoghurt and mint dressing, something involving potato and bacon and enough pavlova to sink the Titanic. Which is a considerable amount, given a pav weighs nothing at all until you digest it and it magically becomes three or four kilos right there on your bottom. I'm guessing the delicate ballerina who lent her name to this antipodean icon did not ever partake of this dessert, especially the variation involving grated Peppermint Crisp.
I also harbour an unholy penchant for the festive slice called "white Christmas", but every time I eat more than four squares I am plunged into the existential conundrum of what, exactly, is copha? And why does it make me feel carsick? The lion's share of any batch of this mysterious concoction usually hits the bin somewhere around December 28.
I also plan to reprise my annual case of lockjaw from too many Pascall columbines. And have you noticed there are always things that turn up just at Christmas time? I am referring specifically to those Danish biscuits in a blue tin with two tiers of shortbready deliciousness. And panettone. My in-depth research of this phenomenon has revealed that these items are actually "yule-turnal", meaning they come out only when they hear Boney M singing Feliz Navidad. Speaking of which, Bing Crosby is also yule-turnal. And he is the soundtrack of my day. After a full day of Bing, though, I'm ready to pop him back in the CD case for another year. Ding dong merrily on high, indeed.
I wanted to buy a new frock, but I ran out of time and also, being pregnant, I have no idea what size I am from one minute to the next. What's the next size up from plus-size? Who knows? All I know is that if I can get through the day without my ankles swelling to the size of a yucca trunk it will be a kind of Christmas miracle.
I'm going to go all eco instead and recycle a frock I wore about two months ago. It's black. The colour of mourning. And I suppose I am mourning the loss of my Christmas theme. And the ability to see my feet.
Merry Christmas to all! I'll see you (and my ankles) in the New Year.
Chrissie Swan is host of Can of Worms on Channel Ten, and co-host of Mix 101.1's breakfast show in Melbourne and 3pm Pick-Up nationally. She's also a mum of two. Twitter: @chrissieswan.