I love Christmas…. actually..no…lets start again – I love spending time with people I like, I love doing things in the long dark part of the year that cheer me up… I love good food…I love giving and receiving presents.
None of that…even all combined outweighs the stress and misery of ‘doing’ Christmas.
Christmas is just a consumerist habit for most people… like easter and valentines day – neither of which I do because a) I’d rather eat my chocolate in more cost effective ways and b)celebrate my love for my husband in a more personal way…at a more personal time. The commercialism of both the latter occasions makes me feel sick and makes me totally despair as to what sort of society we have become.
The one thing all three events have is some kind of christian overtone, undertone wombling free…. and I’m not a Christian…I don’t believe in a god…I don’t do organised religion – so why on earth am I clinging to the big C. this last, organised religious holiday and high-day?
Pressure is the answer…social and familial pressure. The social pressure of conforming I’m usually very good at flicking the V’s to…. but family pressure is a trickier biscuit. One never likes to offend ones family members…does one?
For at least the last twenty years I’ve threatened an end to christmas… and I’ve slowly stripped it down to a more minimal and bearable affair… I’ve always been happy my children going wherever they think they’ll have most fun and can count the extended family christmases I’ve had as an adult on the fingers of one hand.
I also like good food – but actually a roast dinner at christmas doesn’t taste any better than a normal roast dinner. In fact, having turkey makes it less enjoyable and goose is SO expensive because it’s christmassy – the last Christmas my husband and I had on our own we had steak and salad and I’ve never done the whole overflowing trolley thing in the supermarket because I worked out years ago how much food you ‘really’ need to get through a two or three day holiday.
So that just leaves presents… I love getting presents…I love making people happy by buying them just the right thing…. but be honest – how often do we manage to hit the giving and/or receiving sweet-spot under pressure of christmas shopping.
I used to tie myself up in angst knots for weeks, trailing round shops looking for exactly the right thing until a few years ago when I just said ‘fuck it’ and started just buying people ‘something’…. and yanno…no-ones ever mentioned a slide in standards so i presume they couldn’t ‘feel’ the months of pressured angst, sweat and tears I wrapped every present in. I say this with the proviso, of course, that sometimes I do see things I ‘know’ people will like at odd points in the year and instead of doing the thing I’d most like to do i.e. give it them straight away and make them randomly happy- I hide it away to try and relieve my pre-christmas pressure build up.
This year… the husband and I have no kids around (one is at his other parent and the elder is going to come and house-sit for us) and we are going to Marrakech… where they don’t ‘do’ Christmas. We’ll be eating nice things because we’re somewhere foreign, being happy because we’re together in slightly warmer climes and…well…. that’s it… what more is there?
So now…as we approach the beginning of December I have most of the presents I need to buy this year…. the ones I haven’t got are people I’m most likely to see something for in Morocco… most of my stress is trying to help my husband as he’s still at the ‘fretting for months to get something really special’ stage of buying presents to celebrate the birth of someone he absolutely doesn’t believe in. I have no food to buy (though I have made Christmas cakes…one for me and one for my daughter… that might have to end too) and we’re not going to buy a tree because we won’t be here…. if the house sitter wants a Christmas tree she can do what we did when she was little and paint a branch to hang things on.
So this is my last Christmas… I hope my husband will be joining me in ditching this last bastion of consumeristic christian based diktat next year.
…and yes…. this means you don’t have to ever buy me a present for Christmas again or send me a card. I suggest the radical solution of buying yourself a present to cheer yourself up in the depth of winter instead of buying something for me…or next time you see something you think would make me smile… get it for me because you love me and give it me whilst the feeling is hot or send me a postcard to say you thought of me.
That’s what I’ll be doing.