No I didn't have a bad experience with a mince pie, nor did I have an uncomfortable encounter with a bauble. I simply don't celebrate Christmas, I never have.
Don't get me wrong, I love everything about the holiday season. I love the way our cities are sprinkled with fairy lights, I love the smell of White Company candles, I love that perpetual hangovers become socially acceptable and I love that it's okay to go to parties just for the cheese. But that's about as far it goes for me.
I come from a Jewish family, think My Big Fat Greek Wedding but with chicken soup. The thing is, aside from the odd bar-mitzvah and Friday night dinner, I've never been particularly religious. Sure, my cousins and I get together every now and then to drink some wine and share a challah, but I haven't set foot inside a synagogue in years. Apathy aside, mum would be a little confused if I were to suddenly start decking the halls with boughs of holly on 1 December. Put simply, we're not Jewish enough to celebrate Chanukah, but we're too Jewish to celebrate Christmas. This leaves me in festive limbo.
That's not to say I don't recognise Christmas Day, it would be pretty hard not to given that London turns into a gloriously silent ghost town. For some, the day is an amalgamation of board games, bucks fizz and family rows. My memories are somewhat different. Previous highlights have included Chinese takeaways, trips to the cinema (yes, some cinemas are open on Christmas Day) and the occasional low key lunch at an aunt's house- that's about as wild as it gets.
You'd be surprised at how much this has impacted my life. Telling someone you don't celebrate Christmas is like telling Kylie Jenner she's run out of lip fillers. There are gasps, sniffles and eyes filled with irreconcilable sadness. When I insipidly explain my yuletide negligence, the atmosphere turns slightly awkward; besides, small talk at Christmas parties becomes a little difficult when you take Christmas out of the equation. One year, a co-worker was so stumped she just gave me a hug and quickly scuttled back to the bar.
My friends sympathise. They say I've lived a sad life and perhaps in some ways I have. I'm sad that I don't have to tear through Oxford Circus spending hundreds of pounds on gifts that may or may not be returned. I'm sad that I won't be locked in a house with every member of my bickering family for 12 hours and I'm sad that I won't be gorging my face on a 2,000 calorie meal that will require me to take a nap afterwards. That's what the Grinch in me would say. But I'm not quite ready to go green and hairy just yet. Although, a recent event may have pushed me closer to Scrooge status.
Last month, I was asked in a job interview to describe my ideal Christmas Day. I was stumped. Either, I could fling myself into an elaborate concoction of faux traditions and fictitious cereal box games. Or, I could be honest and bluntly enlighten my prospective employer by explaining that some people, myself included, don't actually celebrate Christmas and that the 25th December is much like any other quiet day for me. Every career advisor under the sun will tell you not to lie in a job interview, therefore, I opted for the latter. I didn't get the job.
Though I didn't show it in the interview, my interviewers' absurdly presumptuous question made my Jewish blood boil. Not only is it incredibly ignorant to assume that every Tom, Dick and Harry recognises Christmas, but how bloody rude to judge someone's personal ideologies in a job interview? I felt like a vegetarian that had been asked to describe their favourite steak. Call me a drama queen, but I don't think that is a fair or intelligent way to weigh up someone's suitability for a job.
Job faux pas aside, my point is this: not everyone celebrates Christmas and no one should ever assume that you do. But do not let that stop you from relishing in the festivities; the mince pies will be delicious whether you're eating them for Jesus or not.