It’s okay – it’s not a post about that C word, because, you know, I’m rarely that vulgar…. This is a post about the other C word: CHRISTMAS. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Everyone loves it, right? Ho ho ho and it’s Chriiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaas. (A la Slade*).
For my own part I like this time of the year well enough, although I wouldn’t put myself down as one of those hard-core Christmas enthusiasts. Truth told, I’m happy to take it or leave it – I like buying presents, I like Dr Who, and I like being able to drink alcohol before twelve noon but apart from that, I like all of the other days of the year just as much as I like Christmas day.
I’ve been alive for 38 Christmases, and (of those I can recall) only three of them have been shitty. That’s a fairly good return, although PLEASE GOD can you not ask me to work out the percentages. Nobody should have to work out percentages during the season of goodwill…….
My first shitty Christmas was 1996. I’ll never forget it, and to be honest, when I think about Christmas now my thoughts are still clouded by Christmas 1996** Christmas 1996 was, for me, Eating Disorder Central. I spent months worrying about how I would pick my way through the calorific reality that was coming my way, and then I spent months atoning for it. I sometimes wonder how different my life might have been, had it not been for Christmas 1996, but then I remember that there’s no good blaming your whole life on a few sausage rolls and I move on. Again.
My next shitty Christmas was my first year in Surbiton. That was the Christmas when everything I thought I knew changed IN A HEART BEAT and I found myself alone even though I thought I would never have to be alone again. It was also the Christmas I moved house and got tonsillitis all AT THE SAME FUCKING TIME. That year, it snowed four days before Christmas and I remember that because four days before Christmas I still hadn’t bought a single gift which meant I had to hike my way to Kingston in FIFTY feet of snow FOUR DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS and buy gifts for the people I loved even though I just wished I would drown in a puddle of melted snow, without the people I loved ever having to know. That was a pretty shitty Christmas…..
To this day, I still can’t explain my third shitty Christmas, unless being mental is an adequate explanation. Somehow I knew that Christmas was approaching but somehow I also didn’t give a shit about it. I stuck my head in the sand – as I’m wont to do – only conceding that Christmas was going to happen regardless a week before it actually did. It was around about this point that I shoved a tree up, flung some tinsel in its general direction and took to wearing a jumper with a quirky penguin on because, you know, quirky penguins are FESTIVE. Ho, ho and fucking ho.
I don’t think this Christmas is going to be a particularly shitty Christmas. I’m looking forward to it well enough (it’s that thing I said about drinking alcohol at noon): my tree is up, my gifts are bought and I’ll get to spend time with the people I care about. Most importantly of all, from my point of view, my head is in a reasonable place – I’m calm and collected and not especially mental. I head into Christmas knowing that a) I’m going to survive and that b) surviving isn’t going to be a problem.
Still – I keep thinking about those people who might be where I was during my three shitty Christmases: people who might be afraid, or alone, or just off the scale mental for no good reason. I keep thinking how difficult it is to find a way through at this time of the year, and I keep thinking how much I wish I could tell those people, who feel the way I once did, that however hopeless the hopeless things they are dealing with feel – there is hope to be found at the end of the hopelessness. You just have to hold on tight.
Christmas brings so many expectations with it, and it’s easy to get carried away with the idea that everything should be perfect for that one day. At Christmas all of your insecurities should somehow melt away, and you should be with everybody you love, and you should feel miraculously joyful and everything should be completely perfect BECAUSE CHRISTMAS. Here’s what I know: ‘because Christmas’ isn’t the answer to all of the challenges you were facing before Christmas. Here’s what I also know – ‘because Christmas’ doesn’t make anything worse, or more intolerable, or more unbearable than it might have been either.
Christmas is tough for so many people, for so many different reasons. But Christmas will be over soon enough, and the reasons make sense in the end. Tomorrow will come. Until then hope is important, shout up if you need help, and I’ll see you in the new year.
Oh. And ho, ho ho……
Love you lots like jelly tots
*Wait – is it Slade? I’m starting to wonder if it might be Wizard…..
**Can everybody please be too polite to mention that 1996 was TWENTY years ago, thanks.