christmas 2012

Alcohol is ubiquitous at this time of year. Abstinence may make you feel virtuous but can also be dull. If you do drink, I'd advocate men avoiding beer. Beer increases levels of an enzyme called aromatase. This converts testosterone into oestrogen and leads to fat deposition around the pectoral - the dreaded man boobs. Stick to a few glasses of good quality red wine instead.
So while you may have known that Christmas was originally pagan festival, you might not have known that in the UK it was made illegal for 12 years and in the US it was illegal for 260 years.
Now, I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, but charging to see Father Christmas is a joke. Whatever happened to the spirit of giving, that warm feeling you get from a hug from the big man himself?
This week, I kissed a guy underneath the semi-parasitic evergreen. He seemed to deserve it, so I stood on tiptoe and even lifted my left leg - although I felt more like a cocker spaniel than Katherine Hepburn. Then I panicked and pulled away. I have an allergy both to the plant and to men... or at least, men at Christmas...
It's been fun learning about Christmas here in the UK. It's a lot louder here. People seem to start celebrating in October, and I do miss that intense calm of a Finnish Christmas. Perhaps it's something only three feet of snow can really accomplish.
I do think that Christmas can have significant meaning, including moral meaning, without religion, and though the carol service wasn't particularly stirring I will continue to look forward to each December with much enthusiasm.
As austerity measures bite even harder, there's little festive cheer for many queuing up to receive donated food. That amongst those lining up for the hand-outs it's not just individuals on benefits, but plenty of men and women who work, is a harsh reminder of life in Britain today. "So many people who need to use the food bank actually think of themselves as someone who gives to the food bank, not who receives," Louise Wratten, who runs the Trussell Trust's Salisbury Food Bank, told The Huffington Post UK.
No matter how awful the gift you get from your appalling present-giver, be grateful, smile, and be thankful for the time they clearly spent rooting around trying to find it. Because trust me, when those gifts stop coming, it leaves a large, present-shaped hole on Christmas Day.
I gave up alcohol as a New Year's Resolution at the end of 2006. Since then I haven't had a drop (actually that's not true, I did sip a gin and wine punch last weekend at a party and it was amazing). But it has been easy to 'stay stopped' and I never saw the point of starting drinking again.
Whether it's old fashioned carols or chart topping hits, the jangly melodies and cheery tunes might as well be nails scraping on a blackboard. Jingle Bells? More like jingle hell.