I don’t want to worry anyone but it’s nearly Christmas. It’s a difficult time for some, and by that I mean us, apartment dwellers. We need to plan carefully. We don’t need Christmas Carols like the 12 Days of Christmas to remind us that we don’t have room for lavish gifts. No leaping lord, no dancing whoevers and no partridges in pear trees. Maybe 5 gold rings if anyone is feeling that generous – 18 carat and above please. Or possibly three French hens if Aldi has them on special and they come in a delicious marinade.
Also not many of us have got room for a Christmas tree – a three dimensional one anyway. The only place I’d be able to put one is on my balcony and I’d feel weird about it. Same as I would if I put Santa and his reindeer and sleigh out there. It’s just not an apartment vibe. Might even be a bye law against it, and the Grinches in the building would complain about me playing Kate Ceberano’s Merry Christmas CD in synch with the light show.
Then there are the other traditions that just aren’t apartment friendly. There’s no Hills Hoist to hang tinsel off or use as a fairground ride. It just isn’t the same with the Ikea clothes horse. Backyard cricket is impossible. You have to take the whole gang down to the park where there are several other families with the same idea. It’s a health and safety nightmare and there’s no fence to tell you when someone hits a six.
No, if you want the big Christmas it’s definitely best to get the invitation locked in now to impose yourself on parents, siblings, in-laws, friends who grew up interstate, anybody with a house, a patch of grass and room to peel a prawn without bumping elbows with the person next to you. They’ll have to cut the grass, decorate the house, organise enough tables and chairs, decide which adults miss out and have to sit at the kids’ table. All you have to do is turn up and not start an argument with your sister. But oh no, you can’t even do that for your mother can you, just one Christmas without a fight, would it really kill you?
If you prefer a small Christmas, then the fact that you can only accommodate six people comfortably in your flat is a blessing. Cooking for more than six is too challenging for most of us. More than six matching wine glasses? Who has that many? It’s an apartment, not a small bar. Even having enough plates for six is a challenge for me and would involve a last minute dash to Kmart.
Forget economies of scale, the economy is better when everything is small scale. You can get away with a supermarket Pavlova base and a few pieces of fruit. You don’t need an esky full of prawns and oysters. You can get by with a small ham you can put in the fridge, not a huge leg that has to stay on the kitchen bench, covered with tea towels every night until everyone is hammed out or the dog can’t resist the temptation any longer.
There are other logistical advantages in your flat. You don’t have to worry about freezing prawn and oyster shells until the next bin night to stop them stinking up the garden. They can go straight down the garbage chute and be everyone’s problem, not just yours.
It’s time to go there – the Boxing day barbie on the balcony. Some are believers, others are non-believers, if there’s anywhere that stirs up a divide of biblical proportions amongst us, it’s the balcony barbie. Is anyone really going to object to the smoke from your cheap sausages and chicken skewers that are three days past use-by date but will be fine if you cook them long enough? Of course they will, but it’ll be Christmas, goodwill to all and with a bit of luck, they’ll have the door closed so they can snooze to the cricket.