What is it about the festive period that makes everyone so ridiculously militant? Is it the fact that Movember just happens to be the month before, and so everyone's already bang on the dictator chic vibe, sporting more facial hair than Stalin and constructing Christmas ideals to match? Or is it just that the year is ending, and having been a nation of total sloppy messes for much of it, we decide to pull it together and get shit done in the last month? Whatever it is, I'm not sure Jesus Christ our Lord who died on the cross so that we could open presents on his birthday would approve. Christmas is about peace, guys. There are (turtle) doves to prove it and everything.
This just doesn't seem to wash with some people. I have friends, good friends, who have openly turned up their noses at what they perceive to be the Slee family's inability to Christmas decorate. Remember those trays you had in reception, where you stored drawings and paintings and toilet rolls that you'd miraculously turned into mice until your parents came to get you at the end of the day? Well, imagine if every single tray in your reception class exploded all over my mum's sitting room wall, and you are some way to imagining what her house looks like at Christmas.
People are disgusted, but isn't that what Christmas is about? Fishing through really deep boxes for bell-shaped pieces of shiny paper that you once stuck a pasta shell onto and called a bauble, and then Blu Tacking them all over the living room door? Apparently, no. Not any more. It's about white Christmas trees, maybe with built in fibre optic lights that start flashing when you clap, covered in tyrannically colour themed decorations. Woe betide you if you don't know that the 'it' colour for tinsel this year is duck egg blue, bitch.
Yesterday, my usually completely normal boss called me at 9.30am and began the ensuing conversation with the dreaded words, 'have you got a pen?' She then proceeded to relay an extremely strict, and VERY long, list of Christmas decorations that she wanted me to buy. It was uncannily like those episodes of The Apprentice when Alan sends his wannabes out onto the streets of London to buy four pink puppies, a solid gold motorbike and 38.5 grams of uncut crack cocaine, all at cost price. After roaming Southwark for a good hour before realising I'd been walking in the complete wrong direction, I stumbled upon the extremely aptly named 'Christmas Shop' in London Bridge.
I bought, as requested, nine heinous Merry Christmas signs, two rolls of red and gold ribbon, three packs of sticky snowflakes (for windows, panelling, and all other glass surfaces in need of some festive cheer) and a staple gun (for attaching baubles to the ceiling, not for murdering all the bah-humbugs that the City breeds like stick insects). Regardless, I was still near tears when I got back to work three hours after I set off with ONLY TWO OUT OF FOUR MULLED WINE AIR FRESHENERS. She didn't have to say anything. Christmas disappointment (Chrisappointment) oozed from her every pore.
Later that day, I faced a battle of Crusade-like proportions when I was told to hang a load of dangly shit from the ceiling using nothing but the aforementioned staple gun and my non-existent upper body strength. I was told by at least three of my co-workers, who are all, it seems, closet Christmas dictators, that I was hanging them 1) too far apart, 2) too close together and 3) not close enough to the wall. Were I more aggressively natured, perhaps the staple gun would have come into its own as a murder weapon, but as it happens - even when standing atop a chair, getting errant flakes of ceiling plaster in my eye, being asked for another Tanqueray and tonic by some unwitting soul who doesn't know about the customer service vs Christmas decorating rule (i.e. Christmas is bigger than you. Get your own) - I sucked it up. I felt like I could handle their Chrisappointment, counteracting it with my (half hearted) Christmas cheer.
When I got home that night, I found a Christmas video on my Facebook wall. I think the 30 November might have been a bit early, but my friend Saaqib is never one to stand on ceremony, and he'd done what he does best - bringing the worst things possible to my attention in the most light hearted of ways.
What this video showed me was one of the saddest Christmas revelations ever to occur. Sadder than that bit in A Muppet's Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge that, twenty years ago, he let the love of his life slip through his fingers. Upon my screen was Mariah Carey, the one woman that Christmas genuinely revolves around (screw the Virgin, Mariah pretty much invented this holiday), starring in an updated version of her own claim-to-fame classic Christmas song, All I Want for Christmas, dueting with Justin Electrovoice Bieber, who for some reason is pushing a shopping trolley whilst she wears a red furry Santa themed bikini dress.
I don't set much stead in Christmas traditions, other than waking up still drunk on the morning of the 25th and eating an Indian starter selection at 11am (yes, weird, but also excellent. You should try it. Nothing like an onion bhaji when you're opening your third package consisting of rock hard toffee wrapped in a pair of sludge green socks). The only other thing I care about at Christmas is Mariah Carey. Even when she was fat, I still gave a shit. She's the actual voice of Christmas. She wrote Christmas. Or at least pinched someone else's Christmas lyrics and made them her Christmassy own.
Seeing her writhe around in her weird stripper Santa outfit, singing the ultimate festive tune in front of a rubbish pre-pubescent with an empty shopping trolley made me want to cry, and that was when I realised - I, too, am terrible. A December dictator. A Christmas Hitler. A Chritler. And I'm not afraid to say it. Mariah, you have officially ruined all I loved about Christmas. I'm Chrisappointed in you.
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