I’ve packed a few gifts under the tree as has Santa. This has been the night I have been fearing for the last couple of months, Christmas Eve. Knowing there is no money for gifts, you see Santa isn’t poor, so I would have to kill Santa, kill the magic. That was not in my plan.
I’m not extraordinary, I’m a single mum, I’m on Newstart. We can’t afford the rent that we have to have, so my mother who’s a retired teacher is supplementing me with her pension money so we can keep our house. We’re surviving on charity food hampers, milk that has one day to live, meat that has orange stickers on cling wrap with today’s date written in smudged texta.
Christmas doesn’t even come into the equation. I just finished a double degree and am looking for work, which has been fun as I read all the “Please keep in mind it’s Christmas, we’re taking a break” typed in bold at the bottom of the online employment ads. Positions for grad students with 5 or 8 years experience… no wonder the position’s never been filled.
Christmas morning, my 9-year-old wakes me up 4…5…6 o’clock, “is it time yet?” Just do it I tell her. Her and her sister gather beneath the Christmas tree the present opening begins. Joy, surprise and lots of happy dancing. “This Christmas has more presents than last Christmas,” my 9-year-old whispers in my ear. It’s not true, but to her it is. Memory is fallible and I’m short on my rent.