Daniel was 11 months old when he fronted up to his first Christmas. The humidity was so high the sweat from our brows ran in rivulets into our mouths as we quaffed through several courses, the bon-bons went limp and soggy in our palms and even the fake silver tree wilted.
The only relief was to swig cold beer while soaking in the little fella's new wading pool under the dubious shade of the banana trees. With the adults hogging the pool, our naked infant was left to play with the hose. He squirted Pa a bewdy in the bi-focals.
Christmas morning found little Dan buried alive in new toys and scrunched-up wrapping paper and wild with excitement at his unexpected haul. Nana always believed Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without noise so to ensure that a fitting cacophony got underway at 5am she had masochistically clued up Santa to bring a drum, a shrill, off-key whistle and twangy toy guitar.
Dan threw himself into his one-man band act with gusto; wailing and shrieking, bashing and bopping with glee while proud Dad snapped his way through six rolls of film.
Although only too happy to join in the mad adult festivities, babies often miss the point and discover a point all of their own. Poor Nana. I don't know who was more deflated when Dan, instead of riding it, attacked his cheery little blow-up car with a nappy pin. And the bandaids didn't really help either.
But villainous Dan's ultimate act of villainy was peeling the dog's nose. Poor Jem. He's a docile, inoffensive Cocker Spaniel with an irresistible button nose. Dan decided it might come off with the help of the vegetable peeler. It was a massacre. A tragic sight. Blood all over the kitchen and Jem just sitting there looking up to heaven with his big, sorrowful eyes.
My friend Helen was hugely pregnant and due any day. Sure enough Dustin decided to arrive in the middle of the Christmas pudding. Well not literally but certainly on that auspicious day. Their surname being Meyer, his nickname quickly became Messiah Meyer. He was a hearty 10 pound caesarean after a protracted labour. The Good Lord by all accounts did not have such a troublesome entry down in the manger.
Although prawns and tossed salad is more suitable fare for our climate in the Land Down Under, we could hardly pass up that great English tradition of Chrissie Pud. The magic of finding coins buried in the custard-drowned steaming treat was lost on Dan the first time round but come his second Christmas he really appreciated the fairies' flagrant favouritism of giving him a dozen or so silver coins while poor old Pa got a solitary two cent piece (obsolete now of course). That was a riotous joke. By the age of three he realised his $3.70 could earn 16.6 per cent interest on the short-term money market.
How Christmas changes with every passing year. Where once a toy drum brought joy to his beaming little face now only the latest Rollerblades, bogey board, electric guitar or down payment on the Ferrari will meet with approval.
I will never forget the year Santa stood by her principles against violent toys and refused to succumb to the ultra-agro Voltron hailed by advertising copywriters as Defender of the Universe. Dan tried to act appreciative when he unwrapped Mr Potato Head. But no matter how we rearranged his features this peculiar little obese character failed to present the same macho demeanour. To this day Mr Potato Head remains our family's very own unlikely Defender of the Universe. But Santa has never been forgiven.