So Christmas isn’t my very favourite time of the year. I guess that was evident when I posted this song about this time last year. I know, I’m just an old humbug with no spirit (except a bit a gin and tonic on Christmas Day). It’s not that I don’t like my extended family – they’re lovely - and I do enjoy the smell of Christmas lilies. I even have an unnatural affinity for Christmas carols (“Little old Jesus lay down his wheat head” and “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Barney’s the king of Israel” Oh I know my carols).
And it’s not about religion either. I’m not a believer, so I can’t get all, “Consumerism is stealing our Jesus’ thunder” and shun Father Christmas in favour of the nativity and mandatory midnight mass.
And I remember the wonderment of Christmas Eve as a child, the scary-tinged, sleepless excitement of a portly man plunging down our chimney. I really thought I saw him once, can still see the sleigh in the sky, such is the power of a child’s imagination. Of course I relished the delicious anticipation of presents and parties and pudding. I’m not scrooging all over the wonder that Christmas carries for children, I think that side of it is truly lovely.
I still love the family rituals too – wrapping presents on Christmas eve, eating croissants on Christmas morning, picking raspberries and shelling peas for lunch. And I like that it gives us an opportunity to show people we think they’re pretty nice, worth a bit of a pressie, a visit and a thanks for being around all year.
It’s just that the rest of it all seems a bit exessive.
I mean we start to get Christmas shoved in our faces in September when fruit mince pies and giant bells appear in the supermarkets. Then we get pre-Christmas sales and layby now for Christmas shouting at us all over the place, which sparks the “should I have started shopping?” anxieties and turns our children into greedy little bastards.
Then there’s the whole Christmas morning pressie frenzy. Last year the children pounced on their Christmas stockings before dawn’s crack had appeared, opened them all in about two minutes, chucked them all in a pile and asked what was for breakfast. It left me cold. And determined to over ride all future Father Christmas requests with, “Dear Father Christmas (otherwise known all too often as Sairnna), some almonds, a small orange would be lovely if not too much trouble because I know you’re busy, with thanks…”
I know, it’s not about me; I should be sniffing pine trees and decking halls, dangling baubles and stirring egg nog for the sake
of my children and I do (well maybe not the egg nog); I just do it whilst somehow feeling I’m being had; that Slaanesh the god of excess has smote us all and is Count-style laughing at us from the skies.
This year I decided I’m being paranoid and over-thinky and it’s time I chose to ignore the excesses and catalogues and plastic pink stuff and embrace the good stuff. Really try to load up on Christmas spirit (without gin).
So I got the tree in early – before the 15th of December which is when I usually begrudge the presence of a needle dripping tree and before the children started asking why the fella up the road has had his reindeers on his roof since November while we don’t have a tree. It was a bit wonky but not too huge. Then we retrieved the box of Christmas decorations only to find it had been inhabited by a dastardly rodent of the Rattus Rattus variety that had eaten half the decorations and shat on the rest of them. The children were fascinated. Gone were the decorations they’d made at school out of some sort of dough (aesthetical trash but sentimental treasure). I toyed briefly with the idea of making up a story, “Oh look, some dear little Christmas sprites have been living in the decorations, look at their sweet wee poos!” But that would be unjustly blaming Christmas for pillaging its own unsuspecting angels.
As a result, the joyous tree trimming I had imagined turned into a cleaning, “don’t touch the poo!” session tinged with grump and ending in a sadly sparse tree. It turned out well though, because the children were thrilled with it regardless, which was a win for my paring back Christmas campaign.
I was buoyed enough to wheel out my Christmas wonder secret weapon – a personal video message direct from the North Pole for each of my children. I logged into an online service, entered each child’s details and waited for the messages to ping! into my inbox. The first to arrive was Lucie’s.
“Hello Lucie”, boomed Father Christmas from the monitor, Skype style. “Hello”, whispers a bewildered Lucie, reaching for my hand. She listened, amazed and intent, as he told her what he knew about her and then froze, stricken, when revealed that she wasn’t yet on his nice list on account of not always being nice to her siblings. “Looks like you need to try harder Lucie,” boomed Father Christmas. Lucie nods gravely. Meantime, my heart is sinking. The others want to see theirs: “Eddie, you haven’t tried hard enough to go to bed when you’re told” and “Bess, you haven’t been eating everything on your plate have you?” The same stricken responses. My eyes brim a bit. There I am, taking full advantage of the wonder of Christmas so that I might get a bit of peace. I’m as bad as a Bangladesh sweat shop churning out reindeer pillow pets.
I’ve been down playing it ever since, but there has been talk of ‘Father Christmas watching us’ (creepy) and Lucie still can’t walk by the computer without looking warily at it as though Father Christmas might actually pop out. I guess in some ways it is adding to the wonder of it all, but it still seems wholly opposed to my simplify Christmas project.
Anyway, I am still reducing the present ratios and talking more about loving and giving and family. And I I got my comeuppance for NorthPoleGate in present form from Bess. She made me a Christmas snowman at school but they’d run out of white clay. This meant that pristine Frosty the Snowman was transformed into Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo. Just when I’m trying to be less shitty about Christmas, I get given a turd. But I love my pooey snowman, he just keeps on giving. He’s the perfect present for me given my weirdo toilety humour – I laughed all the way home after placing him carefully in the car (and fighting the urge to wash my hands). The bus driver later informed me that part of him fell off on the school bus, which had it not been retrieved could have made a beautiful Christmas surprise for any unsuspecting passenger (or a dash board ornament). This made me laugh even more. Then my friend Jo remarked on what a smart poo man he was on account of having no nose. I laughed again. And there aint no better pressie than a good old belly laugh. See, Christmas can be simple.
With that, Merry Christmas dear Megoracle readers and your families, stay safe and as lovely as you are and may all your dreams come true. xx