Friday, 3 December 2010

Bah Humbug!

As the weather gets colder, the sun sets earlier and the annual cold and flu epidemic grabs hold of the nation, our thoughts turn to that joyous time of year when people come together, eat themselves into a coma and spend too much money on items that will never be taken out of the box.  

Anyone who knows me knows I don't "do" Christmas.  It's not that I hate it, I just don't enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to.  To me, it's just a lot of fuss and expense for a holiday that has lost its true meaning, and if that makes me Little Miss Scrooge, so be it.

So without further ado, here are my top ten reasons why Christmas is just not for me.

10.  What White Christmas?

In my thirty plus years on this earth, I have witnessed 2 white Christmases.  The first was when I was very small so I don't remember it.  The second was when I was in my early twenties, but that was on Boxing Day so that doesn't count.  Every year we're told we're going to get a white Christmas and it never happens.

As I write this, there is a small amount of freezing cold white stuff on the ground, but it's not snow.  Proper snow is when the world is white, when you step foot outside the front and your feet sink several inches in glorious white powder.  Proper snow is when you can build a snowman, make snow angels and go sledding.  That's what I want to see on Christmas day, just once.

9.  Bogeys!

If you are spending Christmas in the UK, you will get ill.  Be it a cold, the flu or the bubonic plague, you will come down with something.  Most people believe this is due to the freezing weather, but I personally believe it's because germs are just evil little buggers that take joy in ruining the party season.  If you have nothing planned you'll feel fine, but the minute you plan to go out to a Christmas party or a carol service, you'll start coughing and sneezing like there's no tomorrow.  Because germs are evil.

8.  Ungrateful Brats.
When you're a child, you don't appreciate the value of money because everything you need just magically appears.  Every year, millions of children write their letters to Santa, leave a mince pie out for him on Christmas Eve (and, in my case, a carrot for Rudolph too), spend the night listening out for sleigh bells only to wake their parents before dawn.  The looks on their overexcited faces as they open their gifts is a joy to behold.

But then there are the other children, the ones who just want more, more and more.  They throw a fit if they don't get the right console game, if their MP3 players aren't the correct brand, or if, heaven forbid, they're given something practical like clothing.  They throw themselves on the floor and have a full blown tantrum.  Embarrassed apologies are made by their parents, explaining that their little darling just got a little carried away because of lack of sleep or too much sugar, and the whole thing is just swept under the carpet.  Really the brat in question should have all their gifts taken from them and then sent to their rooms for the rest of the day.  But no, you can't do that.  Because it's Christmas.

7. The Meaning of Christmas.

When I was at primary school, it was drummed into my head that Christmas was all about Baby Jesus's birthday.  This confused the hell out of me back then as I couldn't understand how Jesus was born on Christmas Day and then died as an adult at Easter.  How did he manage to age so fast in just a few months?

Then there was the phase I went through thinking that Jesus and Santa were the same person.  I was a very odd child.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that the true meaning of Christmas is lost today.  I'm not a religious person in the slightest.  If I had to be put into a category, I would say I was more Agnostic than anything else, but that's not to say that I don't respect people who have religion in their lives.  Whenever I walk past a manger scene, it always makes me smile, and I have very fond memories of performing in the nativity when I was little (even if I did always seem to be a sheep).  But these days, Christmas just seems to be about presents, food and alcohol for a majority of people.  That's kind of sad.

6. Christmas Shopping.

Unlike most of my gender, I loathe shopping.  There are few things I enjoy less than trawling through the clothing department of a store, hoping upon hope to find something that not only I'll like but will look as good on you as it does on the hanger, which it never does.  It's a gazillion times worse at Christmas.

Someone once told me that Christmas shopping is a lot like bad sex; lots of pushing and shoving and you have very little to show for ithe end of it.  There is always an air of desperation in every shopping centre the closer you get to Christmas.  People pushing and shoving in an attempt to find the perfect gifts, the far too crowded parking lots, and the overpriced items that will be a fraction of the cost the day after Christmas.  Add to that the queues at the food court, the screaming children, and the mad panic to get out of the car park before rush hour, I'd rather stay at home.

5. The Terrible Music.

Why do Christmas songs suck so much?  I'm not talking about hymns, I like them.  I'm talking about the rubbish that is played in every shop in every town a month or so leading up to Christmas.  The constant jingle jangle of sleigh bells, the declarations of seasonal love and how we should help those less fortunate than ourselves, the preachy, screechy lyrics reminding you over and over again what time of year it is and telling you how you will enjoy it or you have no soul.  It's boring, repetitive and just plain annoying.  (Unless it's "Fairytale of New York".  That song rocks.)

Then there's the annual battle for the Christmas single, the song that is number one on the 25th December.  I don't understand why this matters so much.  Surely the fact that you have a number one song at all should be the important thing, whatever time of year it is.  For several years the number one single at Christmas was as predictable as the sunrise.  It was always going to be the debut single of whoever won the latest reality "let's-make-a-pop-star" television programme.  But last year, the British public had enough.  What started as a not too serious campaign on Facebook resulted in the number one Christmas single of 2009 being "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine.  I'm not particularly a fan of the song myself, but at least it was something different.

And this is the song they're trying to get to be the Christmas number one in the UK this year....

(UPDATE: The campaign failed miserably, and the Christmas number one is the usual talent show rubbish.  *sigh*)

4. Stupid Decorations.

Going back to my childhood again, it was a really big deal when we put up our Christmas tree.  We used a plastic one because we hated getting pine needles stuck in our feet, and it always had to be clamped to a table to prevent the cats from knocking it over when they constantly climbed it.  My favourite part though was putting up the lights.  They always looked so pretty.  But these days, by the time January rolls around I am sick to death of Christmas lights.

Putting them around a tree isn't enough anymore.  Now, people have to put them on their houses, in every window, over every door, even on the roof.  When it's done right it can be enchanting, but it's hardly ever done right.  What may have started out as a plan to create a vision of a winter wonderland, ends up looking like a poor man's Las Vegas or an over the top brothel.

And don't get me started on the stupid inflatables.  Whoever thought a seven foot tall inflatable snowman on their front lawn would look tasteful deserves to be beaten with a stick.  I can think of better ways to waste money.  For example, they could just give it to me.

3.  The Weather Whinges.

Nobody likes to be cold, but when push comes to shove I would rather be cold than too hot.  When you're cold, you can add more layers, drink hot chocolate and snuggle down under the duvet.  When you're hot, there are only so many layers you can take off in public before you're arrested, and sweaty and panting is only a good look inside the gym or the bedroom.  So, no, I don't like the cold but I prefer it to too much heat.

But around the Christmas season, it's all people talk about!  The slightest threat of snow and the whole country grinds to a halt.  No matter where you go, all you hear is, "Isn't it cold?", "It's going to be colder tonight", "They had snow some place I've never heard of the other day", blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!  It's December in England, for crying out loud!  What did you expect, glorious heat and cocktails in the sun?  Please!  They say the British are obsessed with the weather, but this is even truer at Christmas.

2. "You have to be happy.  It's Christmas!"

Christmas is a time for children and families, but if you have neither of those, it can be a very lonely time.  Of course, you get the obligatory invites from people who don't want you to spend the day alone, but there's always a niggle at the back of your mind that they've only asked you because they think they should, not because they actually want you there.  And if you're like me and Christmas just has a way of making you feel blue, you think it would probably be better to be alone and miserable rather than be miserable and bring other people down with you.

I've lost count of the times that people have come up to me and said, "Cheer up!  It's Christmas!"  And they laugh and everyone else laughs... and I die a little inside.

Christmas equals Happy, but if I could get away with spending the day under the duvet with a tub of Ben and Jerry's, I probably would.

1.  "But it's only September!"

There's a shop round the corner from where I live that started selling Christmas cards in September.  Some places have kids sitting on Santa's knee from October.  Selfridges in London opened their Christmas department in August.  My neighbours put up their Christmas tree in the first week of November.  For the love of Santa, why???

This is the biggest pet peeve I have with Christmas.  It's rammed down our throats from the end of summer, so by the time it's actually December 25th, you're sick of it.  The Coca-Cola commercial with the polar bears loses all its cuteness.  Christmas trees that were once so pretty, just look bland.  And every year it seems to get earlier and earlier.  What next?  Santa hats on jack o' lanterns?  Mince pies sold on the beach in July?

I kind of envy the people who are organized enough to spread their Christmas shopping throughout the year.  Then again, a friend of mine brought presents for her daughter months ago, knowing that she was mad about High School Musical.  Her little girl told her a month ago that she didn't like H.S.M. anymore, it was all about Hannah Montana now.  An absolute fortune spent on gifts that ended up in a charity shop.

If I had my way, the Christmas season would start no earlier than December 1st.  It would be illegal to put decorations up outside and Christmas commercials would be banned from the television until that date.  That way we could enjoy it before it gets tiresome.  I think we'd all appreciate more that way.

Bet you think I'm a right party pooper now, don't you?  I wish I could enjoy Christmas like everyone else, but I don't, and it's not because I enjoy not enjoying it.  But if you do think I'm being a miserable moo, you want to see me on New Years Eve.  Just before midnight on December 31st, I am transformed into a snarling bitch demon from hell who's liable to snap your head off as soon as look at you.  This is why I will be spending New Years Eve in my pyjamas, eating copious amounts of ice-cream, shooting bad guys on my computer and making myself a nice cup of tea at midnight.  Now, that is my idea of a great New Years Eve.

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Maundering mutterer said... [Reply to comment]

Excellent post. Only its summer here. Have to laugh at the thought of a white christmas! Flu not to prevalent either. And anyway, isn't the true meaning of Christmas what you make it to be? I mean, if you want to be really traditional, its about the sun coming back after the winter, and you have to kill the king or something. Must say, I agree about most of the others: dreadful music most of all! Loved the idea of Jesus growing up and dying between Christmas and Easter. Thanks for sharing that!

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