I have no doubt that there’s a merry band of curmudgeons on this website joyfully compiling their rendition of ‘Christmas: sucks’. I’ll go first. Bearing in mind how long I’ve endured the garish lights around town and Slade on repeat on the radio, I’ve done bloody well to wait so long.
Christmas, as far as I can tell, is about tradition for the sake of it. Turkey with the trimmings is a certainty I actually cling to but the rest involves a day that can only be described as the loneliest day of the year.
I’ve never enjoyed Christmas. I tell people that it’s because it always starts with disappointment: I’ve never woken up to find a pony under the tree. Yes, the equine-less dawn of Christmas Day still hurts.
But mainly my sadness is the feeling that I have never felt included in the ‘merry’ experience. I’m invited, but never actually part of the day. It’s a pity invite, one that only points out I have nowhere better to be.
I grew up with a few special Christmas traditions that are slowly evaporating. Leaving jelly out for reindeer, eating Twiglets until lunch, watching Dr Who in silence. All gone. Now I watch families make up their own routine comforts. Being on the outside is never more hurtful. I am an old orphan with no option but to travel alone to my dreaded home town. I am a charity case. Please sir, can I have some more?
It usually starts in some crappy office bedecked with cheap tinsel and false cheer. Parties and stupid jumper days flood my inbox, all of which I dread – watching people you don’t know get drunk and do karaoke just reminds me how low humanity has sunk. Then there is the disease-riddled coughers who prove a point by coming in to sickeningly cough every 30 seconds. They never cover their mouths, they never consider that spreading these germs is fucking cruel. Right now I’m surrounded by these cunts and my first hysterical meltdown of Christmas is upon me.
The run up revolves around being organised by other people – some may call them family. Umpteen phone calls about who will be where and when. This kid is with that dad, the in-laws are coming round at this time, family friends will pop in – you remember Libby from down the road, the one with the cist, you must! I literally have nothing in common with you people. I drag my heels until Christmas Eve and slowly load the car with bags of cat litter and fury. Luckily the cats’ dread matches my own. Another hour loading cats is an hour of sanity gained. It may only be two days but I’ll be fucked if I’ll tolerate them alone.
Donning the traditional black and frown, my endurance trial begins, moving from one family to another as they couldn’t bear to share the same village. The kids run about on an apparent acid trip, adults shout, I cower in a toilet with hysterical Tourette’s and an urge to cry. Presents are exchanged and I pretend a jar of Marmite is the best gift ever, silently seething over the fortune I yet again wasted on children. The noise really hurts me on Christmas Day; bearing in mind my love of My Bloody Valentine and their famously deafening gigs you can only imagine how truly epic this racket must be to irk me.
I cheer up slightly for lunch, although it’s a risk to raise one’s hopes. Once I was presented with a nut roast. My dirty protest was noted. Everyone shuts up and shovels food. Of course the cracker session is met with a silent seethe as twats try to force me to wear a paper hat. My cigarette intake explodes.
On Boxing Day it all starts again. Driving back and forth, counting the hours until I can politely fuck off home. Oh home, how far you seem. Each house is fucking boiling and filled with the tears of kids who have already broken a toy. Frequently I am tasked with assembling the plastic tat that defies logic to unpack. Using a clear substance that’s surely made from Black Box material I end up stabbing it like a man in drag, usually ending with a severed finger or craft knife stuck in my thigh. All I ask is three minutes of silence to watch one horse race at Kempton. Just one request, that is always ruined by shouts of “they all look the same”. Ho.
Every year I consider hiring a cottage in the middle of nowhere, with internet and a TV of course. There I will cook, laugh, stay in pyjamas all day. It’s not that I’m happy to be alone stewing in my own juices; others of a similar mindset are of course welcome. Sadly, I don’t think any of them can escape their own personal Christmas family hell. I also fear they would say no, and that would bring a whole new depression – never once have I been asked to share Christmas willingly, it’s only a charity after-thought.
Such is my lot. In a fit of bravado I agree to return yet again to my family’s dwellings. One can dream though.