So many tediously long Christmas days spent having to socialise with family members that i saw so infrequently as to never grow out of feeling awkward in their presence; the forced hilarity of parlour games; the torpid stupor of the post-dinner slump; the embarrassed indignity of giving and receiving gifts; and all the arguments, compromises and escape-clauses of who spends where, with whom, whose turn is it for lunch this year and the hell on earth that masquerades as Christmas shopping. Yes, i realise i must sound like a grumpy old whinger, but all i want is a little bit of peace on earth, a break from the treadmill and some of that magic from Christmasses long-past, when it all felt so very different.
This year, my workmates – bless them – have been on a mission to make sure that Christmas is not a ‘disaster’ for me. Horrified to find that i shall be spending Christmas alone, without visitors and with no plans to do anything other than stay at home and take things easy, (just as i did last year, and the one before that), there have been suggestions of things to do, offers of hospitality, (no really, with fifteen for lunch, one more won’t matter), and solemn instructions to get out and ‘enjoy myself’. It’s all very sweet, but why will no-one understand that i am going to be absolutely, perfectly happy, simply sitting quietly at home and relaxing, with my two Christmas cards, and Christmas snowman candle-holder?
There’s an oft-quoted myth that suicides increase over the Christmas period – even without any empirical evidence to the contrary, i’d imagine that loneliness, depression, isolation and despair are not seasonally dependant… if you’re lonely, you can be equally lonely at any time not traditionally associated with friends, family and socialising – you don’t need to be sat at home like Ebenezer Scrooge to feel alone; you can be equally lonely in the midst of your nearest and dearest – personally, given the choice, it’s one time of the year that i really do want to be on my own, doing my own thing, in my own way… just because everyone who doesn’t feel particularly lonely, isolated or depressed tends to think that i must be, to be alone at Christmas doesn’t make it true!
Even so, the festive season of late has been a rather humdrum affair and not how i would wish it to be… however, things are looking up! The assignments that have demanded pretty much every minute of my spare time are now complete, work seems to have fallen in to some sort of seasonal respite, stresswise, and – for the first time in as long as i care to remember -i began this week with the knowledge that, apart from the usual routine, i have absolutely no commitments, ties or responsibilities that will make unreasonable demands on my time for the foreseeable future.
And, with that knowledge came the return of a little tiny smidge of that old-time Christmas spirit.
There’s little fear of me decking the halls with boughs of holly – unless i feel like nipping across to the school playground opposite and denuding their hedgerow – but, i have been up to some Christmas decorating, at least virtually.
You see, ideally for me, Christmas would be some sort of a cross between Narnia, A Christmas Carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, and an indefinable something that says ‘Christmas’ in my mind… the smell of pine needles and tinsel, wet gloves, bacon sandwiches (don’t ask!), and an elusive stillness. Things that maybe i can’t find right now in the real world, but there’s nothing to stop me creating them in the virtual one.
Certainly i may be spending Christmas alone, but i can escape to a place that transcends what the real world has to offer and touches those memories, feelings and thoughts that are hidden deep inside. You may think that my winter wonderland is over the top, ill-conceived, maybe even garish and tacky… i don’t care – it’s my place, where i find my Christmas spirit. And maybe, if you’re alone this Christmas, or just want somewhere to wander, without all the worldly paraphernalia of the festive season, you’re more than welcome to come along and join me here.
And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it
Tim Minchin – White Wine In The Sun