The perils of Christmas

Yes and here we are again. It’s nearing. Sniff up. Can you smell the pine? (Or turkey, depending on your personality type). The only time of year we can get away with kissing someone who actually remembers when chips were ‘fourpunce’ and blame the whole affair on a parasitic plant that grows on branches. The only time of year that we actually sacrifice a week’s worth of nights on the town so that we can make a mad dash to the shops and buy that articulate, hand crafted, ‘made in Northern Indonesia’, vase for your Gran. The only time of year that ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ can be played on the radio without you taking cover in the Outer Hebrides, or that Slade can be played and seen as fun.

Yes you quite easily guessed it. Christmas. A little too early you may say, but for some of us the saving process begins now (apart from the afore mentioned dash for vase). It’s the present buying that always gets me, I’m terrified of getting someone a present that they look at and think you’ve just taken a walk down to the nearest skip and hand picked it for them. A present they’ll show to mutual friend who will laugh and wonder if you inherited your taste from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

Usually this can be solved by slotting some money into their card, but is it enough? Will they think you’re the cheapest person on earth? Or worst of all, what if you give them too much? They open the card, turn around in complete shock and say how you didn’t have to give them all that. Damn right I didn’t, you think, bloody give me some back then! Thing is even if you did win the title of buying them the present they least wanted on earth, you’d never know because everybody has that look that’s solely kept for Christmas, never used at any other time of year. The shock horror ‘wow this is the present I most wanted in the whole world since I saw it in a magazine when I was five’ accompanied with huge cheesy grin, sparkly eyes, and clasping onto said present as if the tooth fairies about to come and steal it off them. You know when you’re really not liked, as you receive the card with Mary and Joseph on under a star, you know, the crappest one out of the box of 40 that you save for the person you hate the most. Ah the stress…

So very soon, the shops will be putting their decorations up, (obviously that rule doesn’t count for supermarkets in which case Christmas starts mid-July) the lights will be out in the streets, and town will still be busy with shoppers at 8pm. Personally as much as Christmas can send your stress levels soaring above Mount Elbert, it’s my favourite time of year. Everybody gets along, and there’s this air of festivity. Plainly, I think it’s fabulous.

As Christmas’s go, last year was my worst. Not for any unbelievably distressing and emotional reason, nobody died, I didn’t sink into clinical depression, nobody bought me the hamster song, but for one reason. Last year was the year I realised Christmas just wasn’t the same anymore. That defining moment where you wake up at 5.30am and don’t run downstairs, marvel at the array of presents, then go jump on your dad’s head. You wake up, raise your head the required four degrees to see the clock, and lapse back into concussion again.

It’s very sad when the highlight of the day is no longer tearing the wrapping off the presents, taking an informed look at it for a couple of seconds before tearing into the next one. The highlight is going back to bed. Once the magic of Christmas is gone, it’s gone. But then it comes in other ways, after all those years of taking, you start to give and seeing your nieces face light up at her Steps doll, or your boyfriend’s grin at the discontinued album you managed to get hold of for him from somewhere out of space, they become the things that matter.

Just before I pack up and go buy some selection boxes from Safeways, always remember, as Sunshine Magazine said:

‘Whatever you want for Christmas, you’re not getting it’.