“the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”;
Christmas sorta sneaked up on me this year. Busy with retail work and deadlines, worrying about money and suffering with a particularly nasty bout of what we think was probably food poisoning, I let my cynicism get the better of me. Which is a bit of a shame, because I love Christmas: togetherness and food and family and gifts and music and tinsel and pretty lights sum up, pretty succinctly, the important things in life.
Next year, I swear I am going to be all over that shit from at least December 1st.
So the thing that excites me the most about Christmas is that, in an increasingly fractured society, it is one of the last few things that nearly everybody celebrates together. Oh we call it different things of course, but with nearly everywhere closed on the day itself you can’t escape the feeling that the modern world is experiencing some festive and much-needed midwinter pause. My sister picked me up from work on Christmas Eve, and as we fought our way up Buchanan Street through the throngs of shoppers carrying bags and talking about wrapping paper I felt deliciously Christmassy. The well-timed snow certainly helped matters.
And then there was the media. Oh, there was nothing on the telly this year and I couldn’t make hide nor hair of what was going on in Doctor Who, but we were watching it together all the same. There was even a Christmas chart battle of the sort I remember from my teenage years, in which two songs which had bugger all to do with the season fought for the privilege of being called Christmas Number One. It reminded me of the CD singles I used to stake my claim on that had bugger all to do with Christmas (“Stan” by Eminem, that dreary rendition of “Mad World”) and the charts that were topped by songs that had bugger all to do with Christmas (East 17, Bob the Builder) but which ultimately took on those connotations through repeated exposure. And we all tuned into the charts on Radio One last Sunday, the way we used to do, and the snow was coming down then too and I wished we’d gotten around to putting a tree up (that came later). Truth be told, I’d had just as much fun dancing to “Killing In The Name” as I’d had “Merry Christmas Everybody” in the chain pubs of Sauchiehall Street in the early hours of the morning before.
The family was running late for Midnight (or 7pm) Mass but still, somehow, ended up with seats all together in front of a tone-deaf old woman who put the choir to shame for sheer gusto. The priest’s sermon dealt with the difference between Christmas in a child’s eyes, and in an adult’s (“but even now, I don’t understand that xylophone”). There was a little girl two rows behind us, whose mother was pregnant. I nudged my sister. “She’ll have a Cha of her own next Christmas,” I whispered and I could have cried.
Jay and I have made a habit of cuddling on the sofa together on these winter evenings, watching traditional festive movies like Die Hard and Gremlins while I scoff the the ten days’ worth of advent chocolate that accumulated during last week’s illness.
I told my friends not to bother with gifts because I couldn’t afford to return the gesture, even though I know that’s not what it’s about but you can’t help but feel bad anyway, can you? They ignored me and I have so many lovely little, thoughtful gifts. I feel very loved.
I hope you are all having a wonderful festive season, whatever you celebrate.