Thursday, 6 December 2012
Mistletoe and whining.....
Having only just recovered from my near death experience (*melodrama klaxon*) I find myself walking face first into another major ordeal designed to test my patience and stoke up the furnace of my grumpiness. That ordeal is called Christmas and as those who know me will attest I’m not really a fan.
Admitting that you don’t like Christmas has an effect on other peoples facial expressions that I imagine would be similar to admitting that you quite enjoy eating dog shit. A look of horror is immediately apparent, followed by a mixture of sympathy followed by a smattering of confusion then an overwhelming look of disgust.
My wife, like most people is a huge Christmas fan and the fact that I’m not is a source of annual tension. I feel it’s presence from about the middle of October, loitering in my calendar like an appointment with the dentist for root canal work. I detest it’s zany, artificial jollity in TV advertisements and on the high street. ‘Buy something special for the ones you love’ is the message but ‘buy more shit’ is the take-home message.
Don’t get me wrong, my grumpiness towards Christmas is not really triggered by the commercialisation of a religious festival, far from it. As a devout atheist I have no beef with the commercialisation of a pagan festival, which was hijacked in order to provide an arbitrary approximation of the birthday of a man who in all likelihood didn’t even exist.
My ire is predominantly concerned with the distraction and the hassle that ensues and it’s impact on everyday life.
People adopt strange behaviours as they implement a military planning approach to organising social calendars. The office party season commences as the streets fill with bladdered lunatics, their stagger demonstrating that they don’t get out very often.
I have to endure the same old nonsense songs with meaningless sentiment, peddled from every speaker from October onwards. Who writes these songs? What were they drinking?
The annual game of ‘who wants what’ begins where surprise has been replaced by scouting missions and covert telephone conversations in order to get the presents just right. I love giving presents but the effect is somewhat diluted when Amazon wish lists are exchanged in advance. (and I'm just as guilty by the way)
A barrage of scribbled Christmas cards from people I’ve never heard of are rammed through the door by neighbours obligated to ensure that nobody is left out. I gave up the tortuous and pointless exercise of sending Christmas cards years ago on the basis that I can’t be arsed. Instead, I take the money I would otherwise have spent on cards and stamps and instead I spend it all on whisky. I think that’s what Baby Jesus would have wanted.
I realise I’m painting a bleak picture here so I ought to point out that I’m not a total misery arse. There are positive aspects to Christmas, spending quality time with friends and family, drinking yourself daft and eating your own body weight in salty carbohydrates are all welcome distractions from the drudgery of winter. But it could be so much better and yet people seem to go into Christmas auto-pilot even though in many people it induces pathological levels of stress.
This year we are spending Christmas in France with Mels parents. The fact that we are 800 miles away from home, sat by a log fire and can celebrate the end of a very rewarding year in great company is something I am looking forward to immensely particularly after the last few weeks of malaise. I intend to discover the ingredients of a Christmas that works for me and in all likelihood I'll find them in some kind of bottle.