Merry Effing Christmas

Merry Effing Christmas

Christmas is such meaningless bullshit. There I’ve said it. It’s such commercial, wasteful, dragged out bullshit. I don’t just mean from the standpoint of someone who is cynical and is only at the start of the parenting part of my life. I’m saying it as a human being who is already under so much pressure, as a lot of us are, who really doesn’t need the unnecessary, suffocating and pretentious carnival of horrors that is the Western Christmas.

It’s rare to see anybody enjoying Christmas as a religious holiday in its purest form, to celebrate the birth of JC. Hats off to them for keeping it about what it was designed for, I’m sure their Christmases are the most magical of all. Even so, without the religious element to it, why is it now pointlessly dragged out from October onwards? Why is it about competing and consuming and spending money? They say they’re doing it for the kids or they’re responding to pressure but no-one is making them spend stupid amounts on food, tat and Santa ‘experiences’.

I actually enjoy the family element to it all, especially since starting a family of my own. When I was a kid, it was a chance for the five of us (Mum, Dad and us three girls) to have lots of time together while we were all off work/school. It was always the same simple, traditional, lovely formula of waking up, and opening presents together (after my dad had tied a chair to the door to stop us peeping) then a sausage butty, then phone calls from grandparents to say Happy Christmas and thank each other, then the afternoon meeting up with our family at the pub, then the best Christmas dinner imaginable (Dad makes the roasties too crispy and delicious to have been made by a human, I still maintain that he’s half-wizard). After that, tin of Celebrations and the Christmas specials of all the soaps. Simple but wonderful. I never realised the effort that my parents put in until I got older and became a parent myself. We didn’t have a lot of money, but neither did any other post-Thatcher working class family. It didn’t matter. We had our family and full bellies so in our eyes we had everything. I’m grateful for everything they did.

I don’t have anything against the family side of things, I enjoy that immensely, especially since we’ve lost some very precious people who leave very big spaces at Christmas now. It’s how it’s changed from around 2010 onwards that’s ruined it all for me. Now it’s all the Facebook statuses and Instagrams on Christmas morning with ceiling-high piles of presents with captions about how spoilt they and their children are #lovethekids #boydonegood #spoiled. Since when is being spoilt something to brag about? The child will grow up not appreciating the small things and expecting a budget of a few hundred quid to be spent on them. All the build-up is worse with decorations, selection boxes and shitty gift sets becoming visible from October. Our entire lives hinge around this one day from then onwards.

Throughout November and December I got dozens of emails advertising various Black Friday and 12 days of Xmas deals but I’m just numb to it now. That shit’s been bombarding us for weeks now. I’m tired of being urged to consume cheap electrical goods that we really do not need. I don’t need a voice controlled lump of plastic to put the radio on for me, and tell me what the weather is doing, nobody does. I worry about our species.

Last Christmas was our first as parents and was pretty awful as Harry had chicken pox. We all struggled through it together and tried to make it as enjoyable as we could but he was miserable. For a brief time, I was really worried about making this year a really good one for him now that he has an inkling what’s going on. You know what, though? There’ll be no unnecessary, OTT shit happening here. Elf on the bastard shelf is not welcome in my house. It’s for the most part just another piece of furniture in people’s hyper-edited Insta-lives anyway. We’ve done a bit of crafting with him, making some Christmas tree decorations which he put his thumb print on. Giving them to family as a little present will mean the world to them and Harry felt really good about himself for being involved in something with me and his grandparents. Isn’t the simple stuff just so much more satisfying?

It’s baffling as to to why we’ve forgotten what it was about when we were children. Why can’t it be a simple day to spend with our loved ones and remember those we’ve lost and spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves? No self indulgent Christmas Eve boxes, fist chewingly crap Christmas films (let’s face it, the only decent Xmas film is Die Hard), or presents up to the rafters in our house. Who needs that pressure? In our sad culture of pollution, competition, waste and consumerism wouldn’t it be more logical to have one day off from all that shit?