Christmas is crap. Relatively speaking, I mean.
Compared to being in prison it’s all right, I suppose.
At least it’s a holiday and you have an excuse – if you’re the sort of person who needs one – to eat and drink to excess, but it’s still crap, compared to what it used to be like.
Way back when. Auld lang syne. Yeah, I know. I sound like an old bore. What’s worse, people are starting to talk. The jury isn’t even out any more.
Truth to tell, Christmas wasn’t much cop back then either. When I was a kid, I mean. The expectation of it – the build-up which started the day after one of the neighbours put up their tree (which could be as early as September) - was always far superior to the reality. You never got what you wanted. Not really.
Of course, this could have been because my Christmas wish list was largely compiled from the small ads on the back page of my DC comics, none of which was available because it came by mail order from America and you had to have a zip code to send away for them.
Stuff like the Dick Tracey two-way radio watch, X-ray specs (astound your friends) and, my personal favourite, the grow-your-own Sea Monkeys.
An entire family of Sea Monkeys or an Etch-a-Sketch, Kerplunk, a selection box and half a dozen pip-laden tangerines? No contest. What a letdown.
But if Christmas in Scotland is rubbish, it’s infinitely worse in Australia. For one thing, it’s the middle of summer here, so the effort required to chow down on the full turkey dinner served around 1pm is even more of a challenge.
At least in Scotland you can fall asleep in your favourite chair afterwards, in front of a roaring fire. In Australia, if you fall asleep in your chair, there’s a fair chance you’ll be the roaring fire.
Sorry. I’ve been in a grumpy mood all week.
It started last weekend in my local pub, the Albion Hotel in the bucolic village of Swifts Creek.
Minding my own business, sucking a cold stubby, I was accosted by a bloke known locally as The Dag, sporting a paper Christmas hat which, let’s face it, is never a good look.
Pressed into conversation I said ‘Christmas Party, is it?’ because I’m known for my powers of deduction.
‘Yep’, said the Dag, ‘the Bowling Club Christmas Dinner’, pointing over to a paper hat-wearing group on the far side of the pub, comprising a few well known half-wits, a couple of rabid control freaks, and a random collection of sour faced old biddies of both genders. (In other words, your average Bowls Club membership.)
‘Just think’, said The Dag, ‘if you were to join the bowling club, you could be sitting there right now!’
I was horrified. On two counts. The Dag actually thought I was boring and insipid enough to join his club and, even worse, that I would see it as some sort of privilege.
It got worse. When I told my girlfriend how offended I was to be asked and she said – ‘Well sometimes when you’re sitting in the pub reading your Kindle, you look like a boring old bastard!’
(I’m not that bothered about the Old and the sweary word. It’s the boring bit that worries me).
But hey, that’s Swifts Creek for you. Anywhere else reading a book is seen as a sign of intelligence. Here, it’s proof positive you’re bat-shit boring.
Is it boring to write off Christmas? I don’t know, but there’s so much of it which is just wrong.
Like that whole, contrived jolliness thing. Or the suggestion that even if you’re not into the religious aspect of Christmas, then at least you should rejoice in the peace on earth and goodwill to all men part.
Fact is, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the reality that the festive season is traditionally a time for families and domestic partnerships to implode.
Family Christmas lunches come with more tension than détente talks. Everyone is stressed out and/or pissed up which makes it a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
You might have noticed that most people manage to keep a bit of a lid on it on the day itself, but the next morning?
Well, it kicks off big time. That’s why it’s called Boxing Day.
But that’s boring. I mean, why be negative? Why look on the black side all the time?
Peace on earth and goodwill to all isn’t a bad idea; it’s a brilliant one – just because it isn’t happening doesn’t make it wrong.
And goodwill? Spreading it around makes perfect sense. But before you spread it around, splash it all over yourself.
Think of what made you happy this year and aim to do more of it, whatever it is. Stop moaning and blaming other people and get out and live more.
That’s what I aim to do this Christmas.
And, it seems to me, by being happy and smiley – or at least kind and considerate - you’re much more likely to make others feel good about you and then, themselves. Good will.
And if they don’t buy it, why worry? Don’t worry, be happy.
No one will ever call you a boring and old bastard. Crazy, maybe.
It’s just another day. But have a great just another day.
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