Okay, so I don't hate Christmas. Let's say the festive season and I have a less love, little hate relationship. First the sad bit, so spoiler alert, my mum died boxing day 1990, so there's that. However, wayyyyy before that, we're talking the rows and arguments between my mum and adopted/step/now overseas/distant/estranged (weird word ?) father, that ensued during Christmas. My ensuring memories of Christmas, involve one of my parents in a dressing gown ,as they were ill, another one cooking , usually my mum and then (let's call him, Him) carving the turkey, then carving a metaphorical knife through the day , as either him, mum, or my sister probably had a row, usually over who was doing the washing up, although to be fair , I had my first alchoholic experience during washing up as I emptied the pomagne, a cheap prosecco, into my mouth as I drained each glass carefully before washing them. Which was pretty interesting for an 8 year old. There were probably fantastic Christmases and yet as much as I have attempted, I cannot remember one good one and yes its blotted and biased my view of Ho Ho Ho and Winter Wonderland and the Festive period, no doubt, guilty as charged. So fast forward and every year we enter the ' oh shit what do we buy and how do we balance the cost of presents and piss off as least people as possible' season. Or the ' well we will only spend THAT amount on them this year' or ' How many gifts are you getting me and I know how many to get you ' . This starts usually in November and some people, usually the previous November, 13 months before the Christmas. ' oh I'll buy this just in case we forget someone's present' or ' isn't that a lovely gift for a lady/girl/baby , which you'll notice has omitted men/boy (and any any gender you wish to add ), as the male of the species are ' so hard to buy for', which is code for ' I haven't really paid attention to any conversations of his, so I'll guess t-shirt/socks/tie/jumper/gift card ?' Men, we don't get off lightly either as we either go with the usual, you know perfume, chocolates, flowers (petrol station or not), jewellery or inappropriate ones. I mean, I know one guy who bought his wife a vacuum cleaner one year and then boxing gloves and a sparring mitt another year ! Okay, in my defence the first one was for my first wife (wow! It didn't last, how strange!) and the boxing gear was a subtle hint to get my wife to exercise and yes, it didn't work and was never used .....yet. Then the ' well we've not got a gift off them so we won't buy them this year' or maybe the reverse ' OMG they got us a gift and we didn't get them anything' dilemma or argument or politics', thus completely forgetting that isn't it about the giving not the receiving ? Next, the venue for the 25th December festivities, the planning of which can start from either the previous Christmas right up to the following November, with the classic ' we went to theirs last year so they must come to ours' to ' I'm not going to theirs again, like every damn year' to the earth shattering news you give or receive ,saying ' I think we're having it alone this year', which can lead to being struck off a will to winning Social Pariah of the Year. All for one day of the year and its not even that , for I guarantee you, if you add up 'Christmas stuff' time of unwrapping gifts, eating, watching crappy tv, eating, errr, more eating and the forced bonhomie of playing games you either don't want to play or if you play to win, puts you on the Social Pariah nominees list for next year. In recent years, the new politics has arrived, in the form of food, as in is it carnivorous, vegetarian, vegan, herbivorous, pescatarian, gluten free, keto, protein free, Cambridge diet, organic or fasting? Oh and that's before we take into account all the allergies, nuts, flour, wheat, dust, badgers, Dundee cake, marzipan or others ,that I may or may not have made up. This leads to the recent phenomenon during this pagan Christian celebration, of different meals, foods, recipes, ingredients and plates, leading to multiple food bill increases, dishwashing duties and incremental argument increases. Bloody hell Simon! But you're meant to be instilling positive energy and thinking and ideas into our minds, you may be saying ? Well, here's the thing. My bestest times, events, holidays and yes Christmas times, were either spontaneous or had proper traditional ideas behind them.
Not traditional like the Coca Cola Lorry or John Lewis Advert or Boxing Day Sales or Buy Drink Get Drunk Free deals or Who Can Eat The Most Turkey. Traditional is ; Good Friends and/or Family, Laughter, Reading or Games or simply being allowed to do your own thing without being pressured into it, all helping, no television and the spontaneity of popping round to friends, relatives and neighbours for a quick drink or natter ,only to either stagger home sozzled or stay up late nattering or simply catching up and having a laugh.
Which I realise is a tad tricky this year and fear not ye merry gentlepersons, we shall be able to do it again next year , or maybe the year after that. Oh yeah and Snow. Yep, snow makes it all work. It covers all kinds of stuff with a fun chilly white blanket, which apparently us in the UK are going to have less of, due to climate change My best ever Christmas , was in Canada a few years back , arriving into Toronto after a 7 hour flight, driving 3 hours North to a place called Huntsville, where not only did we have snow, we also had Our Own Log Cabins ,each! ( I put it in capitals as believe me , even the most curmudgeonly and scrooge like of us, feel a little soaring of their heart, with log cabins in a snowy forest) Food was cooked by the lodge we were staying at and the 'piece de resistance' dear readers, was my awesome cousin, on Christmas Eve night, involving her sneaking around all our cabins and hanging little sacks with small gifts in, on the outside of our cabin door.
We also did not feel obliged to be having to do something together, with one corner of the lodge being someone reading, another was joining in with my auntie in a huge crossword, avoiding playing her at scrabble, as she was an octagenarian scrabble hustler, or simply going for a walk with cousins, their children or one one's own.
Whilst under this year's extraordinary events, the above would be impossible and our climate , especially in the UK may mean snow will rarely if ever happen, isn't there a way to strip Christmas of the bullshit and pare it back to its essentials ? And especially in light of this years restrictions, won't it be easier to make it simpler and save worrying on the cost of gifts etc and simply be thankful for what and who we are and have in our lives ? So, whilst I may seem Grinchy and Scroogey and Humbuggy, I simply wish for a simpler betterer ,less commercial and more human and connected version of Christmas, be it via a screen or for those that are fortunate, face to face. And God ( or no god or multiple god's) bless us, Everyone!