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Sara C Nelson Headshot

Why I Wish the Grinch HAD Stolen Christmas

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I'm pretty sure I've hated Christmas all of my life. I'd go so far as to say Dr Seuss's famously grouchy Grinch has nothing on me.

Not a speck of tinsel adorns my flat, nor do cards jostle for space on my mantelpiece. Mainly because I don't have a mantelpiece. (Oh, and because no one sends me cards because I never reciprocate.)

Charity collectors singing festive tunes receive a thousand-yard stare and I don't think I've ever bought a mince pie.

Even as a kid I'd ensure there was absolutely no surprises by creeping around the house until I found my presents well before the big day.

I'd carefully unwrap everything, examine my gifts, then re-wrap them, guaranteeing nonchalance and even boredom on the 'big day'.

I never smiled when I was forced to sit on Santa's knee. I suspect I knew even then that there was something a bit dodgy about cuddles with an obese man unrelated to me.

So, this year I'll be working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. And I couldn't be happier.

Instead of refereeing hostilities between my divorced parents (who insist on coming together for these 'special' occasions), I will be in bed with my laptop, listening to the news and NOT putting on 5lbs over lunch.

And as this is a blog where frankly, it IS all about me, it feels like the perfect opportunity to share my top ten crappiest Christmases ever.

1. Last year I watched as my step-mother dished a portion of Christmas dinner into Tupperware and prepared to hop on her bicycle before any of us had even sat at the table.

It turned out she wanted to drop it off with a former school friend of my father's, who had been ostracised by his family and now lived a lonely, isolated existence three streets away from us.

I decided to go with her, picturing myself rosy-cheeked, benevolently handing over Christmas dinner to a grateful recipient.

When we got there we had to let ourselves in and found him passed out on the sofa surrounded by ashtrays and bottles. I woke him up by accidentally knocking over a stack of empties and was rewarded with an earful of abuse. I cried and we left shortly afterwards.

2. A couple of years ago my then-boyfriend came to spend the holidays with my family. We were engaged but I hadn't received my ring yet.

On Christmas Eve I had too much wine, made a scene and was inexplicably horrible to him. It was a sobering and sorry morning for me as I unwrapped my gift from him - the diamond ring I had been yearning for. He didn't speak to me for days.

3. Then there was the memorable year my alcoholic godmother presented me with a family-sized bar of Dairy Milk that had been opened and sellotaped shut. I think its still gathering dust under my bed.

4. Let's not forget the Christmas abroad when my parents had a nuclear row, cancelled dinner and asked me if I thought they should get a divorce. I replied that I did, but they clung on for another eight years, such was their vice-like grip on their miserable marriage.

5. Oh, and there was the time when I decided not to go home, but to spend the occasion with a (different) boyfriend. With impeccable timing, we broke up three days before Christmas, leaving me stranded in London. I was kindly taken in by a flatmate who had family nearby, where I spent Christmas day sobbing at the dinner table while simultaneously fending off advances from his much younger brother.

6. Continuing on the boyfriend theme (a different gentleman this time), I recall the magical year we had a huge party at my family home and my other half punched someone for getting drunk and touching my bottom. It was an admirable response in my opinion, but being that the perpetrator was the son of a long-term family friend, it created a schism in relations that has never quite healed.

7. My brother plunging headfirst through a window made for a most memorable year back in the early 1990s. We made a blood-stained, family journey to hospital in the back of an ambulance, and spent a nail-biting two hours waiting to hear how his emergency surgery had gone.

Thankfully he was OK, but spent the next couple of weeks stitched up like a football.

8. My ever-competitive father tried to top this act by dramatically breaking his leg the following year.

9. He lost all his sympathy points the next year by announcing in front of our dinner guests that I was "packing on the beef", sending me wailing to my room.

10. He regained some of these points when he fell over and broke his wrist taking out the rubbish the year after.

So, Merry f**king Christmas all, I hope you don't spend it in the emergency room, broken-hearted or fizzing with hangover guilt.

Mum and Dad, I love you very much, but this year I'll be in hiding, waiting for all the fuss to die down. Have a good one.

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