It’s that time of year again… Lunatics festoon their houses with flashing lights and “Santa Stop Here” signs. You can’t switch on the TV without being bombarded with tinsel-clad families rubbing their hands over their perfect Christmas meal. Need to pop out for a few groceries? Don’t expect to get home again without an indestructible ear worm. Not to mention parking space punch-ups and brawls over the last bag of sprouts.
Ah, the “season of goodwill”.
So at the risk of crowds arriving at my door with burning torches and pitchforks, I will reveal the three dark Cs of Christmas:
You must celebrate this festival, or you’ll be considered by your friends/family/neighbours along the lines of a serial killer: deeply unorthodox, sinister and probably dangerous. The sort of person who keeps human body parts in the freezer. And who wants the reputation of a Fred or Rosemary West? So you suck it up and hang a wreath on the door.
Not only must you celebrate Christmas, but you must celebrate it in the manner dictated by society – and TV ads. You will need:
- 2.4 deliriously joyful and angelic children under ten years old,
- the full compliment (min: 4) of doting grandparents,
- benevolent aunts and uncles,
- convivial cousins.
You don’t have all of these? You’re excluded. Sorry.
And if you happen to be lumbered with toxic family and/or are childfree, as I am, there is no acceptable template for Christmas. The childfree, the singletons, the lonely just don’t exist as far as the bully “Festive Season” is concerned. You don’t measure up. You’re not “good enough” to do Christmas and your nose is rubbed in it all through November and December.
That’s one sixth of the year.
Kids compare gifts. Adults compare festive statistics: “You had turkey? Again? Toby and I sous-vided seven New Caledonian owlet-nightjars with orange sauce.”
Christmas is a holiday cloaked in a veneer of loving and giving, but underneath it is cold, hard, selfish, excluding, greedy, flashy, and invites people to compare themselves with others. “Will my efforts be good be enough? Do I measure up?” Those who think they do measure up are smug. Those who don’t (that’s a lot of people) feel defeated and depressed.
The Dark Lord
And overarching all this – one C to rule them all – is a fourth C: Consumerism. Relentless, brutal, bullying. Beginning in September and hammering on until the day itself, when it switches abruptly to coerce us into buying “this season’s sofa”.
You disagree? Think “Christmas is in the heart”? Try saying that to your parents / children / grandchildren instead of giving gifts and see what their reaction is… I think you might come up against the cold, hard reality of the fourth C.
So… Go ahead and enjoy Christmas if you’ve got the perfect family, the perfect home and sacks of cash. Congratulations!
For the rest of us, we’ll try to ignore the whole thing. I will, anyway.