It’s taken me a long number of years to get to this point, but I think I’m ready. I’m coming out. I know it makes me a weirdo deviant but I…um…I really don’t get Christmas. I get that all you lovely people get it. I get that it’s a massive deal for most of the civilised world. I respect that, really I do. But the whole thing is rather lost on me. I grew up in a family that was evenly split between Catholics (my dad’s contingent) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (my mum’s side. And, actually, a few of my dad’s side too, just to confuse). Me and my lucky siblings therefore went to Catholic schools and underwent all the hokum associated with that, but for birthdays and Christmases, it was the joeys who prevailed. In this way, we weans got all of the guilt and none of the selection boxes. A kind of twisted religious version of Narnia, if you will.
As an adult, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Christmas makes me antsy. Every year, it’s something that I know is going to happen and every year I feel I should be making some kind of preparations for it because, well, everyone else is. I’ve seen enough films to know the basic steps, and have even made a stab at it once or twice. I once transported a six foot tree home from Asda on the bus! In April! But turkey and tinsel are really not in my DNA, and, if I’m being honest, I’ve always ended up being a bit of a parasite, feeding off other people’s goose fat.
Boyfriends past meant I spent a lot of Christmases in my twenties and thirties at home or with families, doing the whole Dickensian kit and caboodle*. It was good fun of course: I mean, good food, nice company, pressies – what’s not to like? But it never felt quite right. I then thought the key might be to kind of keep busy and hope the day would happen without me noticing, and so I volunteered in soup kitchens and went abroad (not all at once, of course). But, somehow, it still wasn’t quite me.
Then I turned forty, and I grew a pair of hefty Christmas man-baubles. That year I made a quiet pact with myself that come what may, I was going to spend Christmas in my home, alone if necessary, doing whatever took my fancy and just generally not getting too het up about any of it. I duly filled the fridge with After Eights and Babycham, hunkered down for a me-party and had one of the pleasantest, most chilled out Christmases I’ve ever known. And that’s been the template ever since.
People are incredibly kind and find it difficult to countenance the idea of someone spending Christmas day alone. But rather than looking at it through that particular prism, I prefer to see it as a day when there is absolutely no alternative but to stay in, eat unspeakable pate and watch embarrassing box sets. Call it my gift to me. I’m not generally one for giving advice but I can speak from experience on this. If you, like me, maybe find it all just a bit of a strain, what I’ve learned is that it’s perfectly ok – in fact, it’s rather lovely – to (whisper it) relax and please yourself on Christmas day, rather than popping a vein over what may or may not constitute the ideal celebration. So, here’s wishing you a perfect Christmas, whatever that may be.
*The nice bits of course. Not the bits where folk are getting chased round London by spectres.