It is fucking Christmas time.
Because it is Christmas time there are eleventy million things that you have spent the last few weeks panicking about and trying to remember to get done by writing loads of little illegible lists using an almost dried out felt tip that you found down the side of the sofa.
Do not dig too deep down the side of that sofa.
There has been a lot of shit to remember to get done and generally panic about like Christmas Cards and presents and secret santa presents and nights out and whether or not you have a big enough roll of tin foil in your cupboard to cover a turkey and crap like that.
I’ll be honest with you ok.
I am not a big fan of Christmas.
The things is, there is just this horrible pressure to get, buy, do all of this stuff and because everyone else is also out getting and buying and doing all this stuff there is a sort of post-apocalyptic kind of panic in every town, supermarket aisle and car park where people are pushing past each other to get tubes of twiglets and forming massive queues and overcrowding shops which are selling loads of really pointless gifts that no one really even wants or needs in any way.
I realise I just sound like a miserable old trout, but that’s the thing isn’t it? If you’re not that into Christmas you are then labelled as a scrooge or some kind of ruiner of everyone else’s fun and happiness.
Well, I don’t care. I am going for it. Here are some of the reasons I don’t like Christmas time;
1. It is so cold.
2. It is so dark.
3. Did I mention how cold and dark it is?
5. Also, those rank dates that everyone buys and no one wants to eat that come with a bendy plastic stick which is totally impossible to skewer dates with as they are all stuck together in a rock hard, inedible lump.
7. The overwhelming pressure to be cheerful.
8. The overwhelming pressure to buy a prawn ring.
9. The overwhelming pressure to buy lots of thoughtful special gifts.
10. Not having enough money to buy loads of thoughtful special gifts.
11. The fact that Christmas is so great if you have this normal functional family where no one has any problems or terrible crises or no one has to spend it alone or when going through a really awful time but the fact of the matter is that people are very often alone or going through a really difficult time and that Christmas only serves to make people feel more shitty about how much they are not part of a functional happy family unit.
Actually, on that note, let’s break out of this stupid list thing and take a moment to remember those horrific newsletters that everyone used to send each other in the 90s in their Christmas cards.
Jesus fucking Christ.
Dear random family who I’d like to show off to a bit,
Well, another year has passed and we have had another year of wonderful holidays, promotions and achievements in our family which we’d like to list for you here. Blah, blah, blah, we have moved to a bigger and better house etc etc. Oh and little Johnny has now achieved his grade 8 with distinction on the trombone and the harpsichord and waffle waffle etc etc husband did something useful in the garden and got a new job and a shiny new salary and car to go with it etc etc etc We enjoyed a magical three weeks in the Costa del brava, oh and did we mention how Stacey achieved ten GCSE’s at grade A* or above and is soon to become an Olympic figure skater, blah blah blah . . .
All summed up at the end with a small paragraph about what they had learnt this year about the importance of family love and sticking together and how they are so rich and functional due to the blessings of Jesus etc etc
(because Jesus is probably so into people buying a third car and a fucking villa in Andalucía)
Anyway, I remember reading ones my Mum received when I was a teenager and urging her to send ones back that were brutally honest and listed all our biggest failures, arguments and housing crises over the year. I wanted to title it,
‘Another fucking year’
She wasn’t into it.
But anyway, now I am an actual grown up with children of my own and I am hosting Christmas lunch for eleven people like a real actual grown up person and having anxious thoughts about things late at night like whether or not I remembered to order mince pies and what kind of pickled onions to buy. I am queueing up in shops for fairly pointless gifts and getting all stressed out about whether or not to colour co-ordinate my decorations. There is a lot of stuff to remember and I am so crap at remembering lots of little things.
I feel this incredible pressure to have every kind of Christmas related food in my house just in case someone happens to want it on Christmas day and also to get loads of shit done like deep cleaning my house from top to bottom so that it is all perfectly clean so I can relax when it is actually Christmas and when I say ‘relax’ what I actually mean is ‘do a lot of cooking and get stressed out about my kids playing with really noisy toys or rollerskating in the lounge whilst telling my husband to fuck off during an argument about who said they were actually going to buy advocaat so that people could drink snowballs.’
And yes, I know that the real meaning of Christmas is that we all love each other and stuff and blah blah blah.
I do love my family and I am looking forward to stuff about Christmas but oh my God, the levels of stress are ridiculous.
And perhaps for some of us, Christmas conjures up more than just a little wrapping paper related stress?
Some of us find Christmas hard. We feel like we should be cheerful when it’s actually a time of year that can bring back sad memories or just highlight how un-festive we are truly feeling. For people who find Christmas hard it can be a rather dark time. A trip through town can be painful. Every shop plays music that reminds you of the ghosts of Christmases past. No matter how ‘ok’ you are now, that music reminds you of a time when you were not.
I want to write to you, if you feel like this.
Because you know what it is the worst thing about Christmas?
You know what is the most bullshit thing about Christmas?
It is the idea and the myth of perfection. It is the struggle to reach it and to display it for all to see.
You see the thing about those horrible Christmas newsletters that went round was that they often only told the easy pieces of news. They often only admitted to triumphs and positive feelings. But life isn’t really like that is it? Aren’t our lives full of difficulties as well? Aren’t our lives a mix of darkness and light?
And here’s the thing. I believe that it’s when we share the harder days, when we share our darkness that we really form any kind of real or close relationship with each other as human beings.
Down my road there is a house that is covered COVERED in bright white lights. It is absolutely blinding. It is unbelievable. The first time I walked past it I could hardly believe my eyes. Christmas nuts, I thought to myself. Some people really go for it at Christmas and this family must be one of those who just enjoy those perfect Christmasses together.
I found out a couple of weeks later that the reason their house is plastered in lights, apart from because it makes the local kids so happy to see it, is in remembrance of their young son, who they sadly lost around this time of year.
Isn’t it funny how it is sometimes the people who have lost the most, who have walked through the darkest of nights, are those who hold the brightest light for those around them?
There is still light.
There is hope.
Even in this darkest of months.
Even in these coldest of days.
And a friend or family member who you can cry with, who will listen, is worth a million ‘good news’ letters about a years’ worth of triumphs.
They are the brightest lights.
Lights that we often only find when we are scrabbling around in the dark.
When we have ditched the idea of perfection.
If you are feeling down at this time of year, please hold on.
Perfect Christmasses are as bullshit as perfect families, and now that we have made it into the darkest part of winter, we can surely make it out the other side.
I don’t want perfection from my family. I don’t want perfection from my friends. Give me your worst. Give me your fuck ups. Give me how your kids are crazy and they don’t sleep. Give me your sadness and your worries.
Give me that story again, you know? That one about how you got so drunk at your work ‘do’ that you had to throw up into the selection of tupperwares you found in your backpack on the train home (you classy girl you). I’ll tell you the one about the time I thought my toddler was playing so nicely with the shoes in the hallway, when in reality, he had managed to silently open the front door and go for a gleeful little walk down the street in his socks.
Merry fucking Christmas to one and all!
Here’s to another year of wonderful life,
Of darkness and light,
Of children and screaming and poo,
Of honesty and friendship and coffee.
Here’s to all you mothers out there
May your Christmas be not-perfect
In the most wonderful way.
As a little extra, I thought I would ruin some festive images of robin for you by giving them sweary speech bubbles. You’re so welcome. Don’t they look like miserable little bastards though?
If you like my blog then why not follow it on facebook? Here is my page, if you click ‘like’ on it you can stay updated.