I was around 4 years old and it was Christmas Eve. I was so overexcited that my parents probably rummaged through the medicine cabinet in desperation to see how many prescription pills I had consumed.
I was just old enough to understand the magnitude of this festive holiday. My thought process went something like this: So let me get this straight – a jolly fat man gives me every present I’ve ever dreamed of, I get to eat as many white-bread baguettes with butter as I like (both were banned substances in our hippie household), I get to gorge on pudding all day and no one will tell me off? Surely this was some kind of test, perhaps a trap of some kind.
Suspicions aside, it was pleasure overload and I literally could not wait for morning to come. I was overwhelmed – running around the house screaming, crying, begging my father to make Santa come sooner. Didn’t he understand this was a life or death situation? Eventually, and by some miracle of parental prowess, I fell asleep.
But my excitement did not wane. In fact, it grew more powerful as I slept. At 5am, my eyes flicked open. My bare feet hit the wooden floorboards and I was off – pad, pad, pad – down the corridor, waking everyone up as I went.
My little blue eyes turned wide as saucers. Under the tree was everything I had scribbled on my list to Mr. Claus. Among the thousands of little presents (I was a "more is more" kind of girl) was the main event: a new pair of bathers (swimsuit in Australia-speak) and a brand-new boogie board. By now, my parents and brother had joined me by the tree. "Santa came! Santa came!" I exclaimed at a fever pitch. Imagine a tiny blond girl jumping up and down while simultaneously performing the best "jazz hands" you’ve ever seen.
The wrapping paper, the mince pies, the tinsel, the knowledge that there was a mysterious grown-up who lived to shower me with presents – it was mind-blowing. I was overdosing with happiness. My eyes rolled back in my head, my stomach churned, my palms turned sweaty. I threw up right there under the tree, a puddle of mince pie vomit sitting between my brother’s new tool kit and my pink-and-white checked bikini.
I had passed out. My mother had to carry me back to bed, where I slept like a rock for over four hours – an emotionally exhausted shell of festive cheer. The good news is that I got up in time for lunch, and still managed to eat three servings of pudding with brandy cream.
It is with the same festive fervor that we introduce this year’s jam-packed Christmas feature. Inside, you’ll find out how to make Christmas ornaments and gingerbread wreaths with the kids (p64), be inspired by people who are making a difference (p56), see how other families are spending their Christmas (p53), and find everything you need to make your Beijing Christmas a merry one (p60).
Finally, if you find yourself having to provide assistance to an overexcited child this festive season, just remember: There’s no cure. You just have to work through it and be there for them when they puke all over their presents.