Merry Sodding Christmas

To me, Christmas is a big pile of knackers that over-promises and under-delivers. So spare a though for me when you and Aunt Clarice are bonding over the port.
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To me, Christmas is a big pile of knackers that over-promises and under-delivers. So spare a though for me when you and Aunt Clarice are bonding over the port.

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Christmas; shit in cartoons

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It’s Christmas Eve. I’m watching Peep Show and drinking gin on my own. Forgive me, please, if I’m not exactly in the Christmas spirit but rather drinking it, albeit Tesco Blue Stripe bought an hour ago in a moment of sheer human desperation.  This year has not been the best, it has to be said. It’s seen the end of a ten year relationship, a Leonard Cohen phase and a rediscovery of the joy of cigarettes after a two-year abstinence. And it was all my choice. So why do I feel like a sooty-faced Victorian urchin banging their head against a bevelled-glass sweet shop window? It’s snowing, there was a man playing the hurdy-gurdy in town and I took my daughter to see Santa in a weird Wizard of Oz styled grotto this morning...so why is the Christmas spirit still eluding me like a misplaced set of car keys?

One thing is certain, Christmas never lives up to the hype. It’s expensive, it’s stressful and it forces you to spend time with people you’d never normally entertain if the world was under imminent nuclear threat and they owned the last tin of Happy Shopper Liver Casserole in known existence. I’m always hopeful of a nuance of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ magic at this time of year, but it never quite transpires. Jammed between middle-aged women bellowing, ‘Brandy, Geoffrey! We can’t forget the brandy for the starter!’, and people fighting for a spare Argos book, it’s not difficult to see why this is touted as one of the most depressing times of year. Apparently, ‘holiday depression’ is even a recognised illness, with the pressures of providing, spending and social interaction putting the expectations of an idyllic family Christmas firmly under the ever-judgemental microscope of ‘how we should be feeling’. And yet, still, there’s still a bit of hope. Still I think to myself, still, there might be a little miracle; I might just get into this elusive Christmas spirit, unexpectedly and inexplicably. No? Well fuck it, I’ve come this far, I might as well elaborate; the five things I hate about the festive season -

1.       Being single. Yup, it’s a cliché, but it’s true; Christmas is lonely on your own. I’d love to be playing ‘Game of Life’ and sharing sworn intimacies with a polo-necked lover, but actually I’m writing this and listening to the sounds of labourers chundering Crabbies ginger ale up outside my window. If I can plumb the depths of my festive desperation, I will admit to nicking some of the neighbouring flats Christmas cards just so I look a little more loved at this time of year. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have an Auntie Marian or that my name isn’t Jean, to be fair who’s going to read it? She made the effort to make it and post it from Italy, so I’m not complaining.

2.       It’s expensive. Last year Ruby was nine months old; she’d have got excited over a hairbrush dressed festively. This year it’s all about ‘In The Night Garden’ and ‘Zingzillas’, and I have to tell you, these things don’t come cheap. My particular favourites are the playsets which only contain one character from the show, so you have another six of the bastards to buy separately. I’m not tight, I’m not a Scrooge, but thirty quid on a piece of plasticky shit that looks like an owl coughed it up on Halloween? Christ, it’s not safe for me to play with, let alone a toddler. Three flesh wounds later, and ‘Zingzillas Island’ is in severe danger of being smashed up with a Christmassy attired tack hammer. Sorry Ruby, but Santa was in a bad mood; he got his council tax bill and the PDSA did him for animal cruelty on the same day. Lapland isn’t untouchable.

I’d love to say I have something more ‘Christmassy’ to do – whatever that may be – but Jason Donovan seems to have been relinquished from Iceland duties to perform ‘Jingle Bells’ on Chris Moyle’s Quiz Night. It would be a poor excuse if I didn’t try and finish the gin and slit my throat with Auntie Marians Christmas card; Merry Christmas, one and all.

3.       The food shop jostle. Look, the shops open again on Boxing Day. We’re not going underground, you won’t be judged on the inappropriate amount of ‘biscuits for cheese’ purchased and no-one’s going to give you a donkey punch because you’ve dressed the table with a poinsettia that looks like it’s travelled from Mexico by parcel train. So why the panic buying? There’s only so much protein your body can consume before your head starts growing out of your shoulders and directly bypassing your neck. And while you’re at it, please stop loitering in the exact section that I want to look at because my British manners only stretch so far. If you want the profiteroles, just put them in your fucking basket, don’t deliberate for ten minutes and then decide you want sorbet instead; or as well as? What to do? Oh, for fucks sake.

4.       The fancy dressers. Look, if your shop or organisation decides that dressing as elf is mandatory, please try and pull it off with some aplomb. There’s really nothing worse than being served by a mythical creature that looks like he wants to pull his own ears off and hang himself with his tinsel boa. I invested in a ten year old bottle of Japanese bottle of whiskey for my father today. I won’t lie, I was feeling pleased. I knew he’d like it, and it cost a small fortune – thank you, Mr Sainsbury’s. ‘Oh’, said the lady at the cash out, passing the box through the scanner with a smile. ‘I was going to ID you, but then you smiled and I saw your crow’s feet’. Nice try, but the Santa hat and flashing badge doesn’t hide your thinly-veiled jibe, you twat.

5.       The horrible expectation. I grew up in a household where presents were thrown across the room for being the wrong size/choice/colour, so I always made a conscious choice to be grateful for whatever people choose to buy me. Because you know, they’ve spent time, money and effort on me. That said, it’s hard to hide the crippling disappointment after being presented with an elaborately wrapped jewellery-shaped box to then reveal a box of After Eight mints from Poundland. I’m not a greedy person, I just ask for a bit of knowledge about my person. I don’t mind that I asked for some Chanel only to be given a George Foreman, just don’t ask me in the first place. That way we can both substitute disappointment for ‘Surprise’!

I’d love to say I have something more ‘Christmassy’ to do – whatever that may be – but Jason Donovan seems to have been relinquished from Iceland duties to perform ‘Jingle Bells’ on Chris Moyle’s Quiz Night. It would be a poor excuse if I didn’t try and finish the gin and slit my throat with Auntie Marians Christmas card; Merry Christmas, one and all.

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