Sunday, December 9, 2012

No! THIS Is Christmas...

"I need some love like I've never needed love before..."
Come December 1st, my daily alarm clock switches to my vast collection of Christmas tracks (and yes, that does extend to the 1996 Christmas Number One, '2 Become 1' by the Spice Girls. Which is really only Christmassy because the girls wear fur jackets in the video. But, for whatever reason, it doesn't feel right until I hear it).

I turn down DJ booking requests if they clash with the night of the Toy Show.

Each December, I'll insist on melting my heart at least 2-3 times by watching movies that, really, I should be writing blogs mocking (and also Die Hard).

Yippee-kay-yay to all motherfuckers, and to all motherfuckers a good night...
The sight of a tree that's been littered mercilessly with tinsel and cheap, Tesco lights brings me more joy than a combination of EVERYTHING over the past 12 months had.

And I still look forward to work Christmas parties despite their track record of doing nothing but damage to my professional reputation.

I fucking love Christmas. But I can't figure out for the life of me why.

Think about it: everything that trained you to love Christmas is a damn, dirty lie.

"Oooh look, Santy! YAY! This rather large man you only meet once a year in a creepy little shed from Woodies DIY, who sits you on his lap and makes you tell him what you want more than anything else in the world. He then breaks into your house, eats your mince pies and leaves you what you've asked long as Argos hasn't sold out of them..."

Basically, he's a fat Jimmy Saville in a red suit. In fact, if I could design one ideal suit for Jimmy Saville to do his pedophile thang in order to remain unnoticed to society, it would probably look pretty fucking similar to a Santa suit. If I could think of an ideal grooming technique, it would be to lavish a child with gifts in order to access their house unquestioned. If you could summarise the idea of 'Jim'll Fix It' in a few words, would it not be, 'Santa Claus...except he's Jimmy Saville'?

A man who has emptied his sack for children more than most...
And, even then, it's all a lie. Our parents basically teach us to accept the advances of creepy old men, sneaking around in the dark, and entrust them with our household security and heart's desires because they bring us gifts. For what? Give me one positive, long-term benefit of the idea Santa Claus other than to teach children the lesson that, sometimes, their parents are lying bastards who like to ponce about in elaborate shows of deception for no apparent reason? Is there any fucking wonder that millions of us grow up in the world with severe trust issues?!?

If you're a Catholic, when you cop onto the fact that Santa Claus isn't real (and is, in fact, everything your school is trying to teach you to avoid in terms of 'Stranger Danger'), they may try and teach you what Christmas is really about: after all, it was the birth of our lord Jesus Christ.

Now you kind of have to figure out that lie for yourself.

Jesus may not be real, but Ming Flanagan is...
And the dynamic switches as you get older: now you're the one poncing about indulging your parents' belief in the utterly inane, getting your kids baptised and confirmed just because their granny knows she's running out of time so is clinging onto the idea of Heaven in the hope she'll turn out to be magically immortal.

"Oooh, Jesus was totez brill! He died for our sins."

Yeah, that's how al-Qaeda justify murdering thousands of people too. But our god is the 'real' one. So when our deities are martyred it's heroic, but when other people do it, it's terrorism. Don't get me started...

Now that organised religion (in the western world, at least) is a few generations away from dying out and being laughed about in our great-grandchildrens' history classes, I wonder how we'll justify celebrating Christmas? Because, let's face it, Christmas isn't going anywhere.

We'll probably have to universally make up a new lie to cover our arses (no doubt said lie will be spread by a chain, 'POST THIS ON UR TYMLINE TO SPREAD DA WORD' Facebook status). Maybe we can say that Christmas was the day Santa was born instead? Though that does raise the awkward question of, "Why is the only day of the year we expect Santa Claus to do anything for us his birthday?" Perhaps we could combine that with the Jesus myth and say that Santa gives us presents for our sins...or some shit, I dunno. It's a lot of effort just to justify a Turkey dinner and a few mince pies, isn't it?

"It's a day for family," they say.

I can kind of get behind that. In theory. In practise, Christmas every year just serves to remind me how little I get to see my extended family these days. Every year, I'm astounded by my family's skill to just...make conversation. We meet up in my auntie and uncle's house after the bleary-eyed present-opening shenanigans of that morning, all exhausted and slightly shaken by the nervy drive along the icy roads that got us there, and turn idle conversation about the weather into a genuine bit of craic with people we've only seen sparingly over the past 12 months. It's actually kind of impressive. I dunno if it's worth the hype of it all...but it's something.

And we're one of the lucky ones. I'm genuinely blessed with both sides of my extended family that there are no long-running grudges or scores to settle that all emerge unceremoniously with a few jars on us. At worst, when it comes to me, my extended family are just a bit bemused by how weird my life is from year-to-year. "Oh you're a wrestler now, is it?" "Oh you're a DJ now, is it?" "Oh you were on Take Me Out now, is it?" "Oh you're a bully now, is it?" And I don't blame them, truth be told. I'm one weird cunt when you put it all down on paper like that.

But, realistically, is it really a good idea to have a day where you force family to come together and attempt to bond like that? To put the 18-year old girl cousin going through her 'slutty phase' in the same room with the evermore-senile 70-year old uncle who's known to get 'handsy', and add copious amounts of alcohol to proceedings? To have your drug dealer brother forced to go outside for a smoke with your Garda brother-in-law and try to find something in common?

Let's face facts, most people look forward to the Christmas edition of The Royle Family more than the Christmas edition of our own family.

Andy Williams once described it as, "The most wonderful time of the year."

Is it, though? Really? My bank account tells me it's not. I've a litany of Christmas presents still to buy and, despite being sensible and only bringing out €50 to a Christmas party last Friday, unfortunately I remembered that I still had the Visa on me once I hit the nightclub. My landlord, electricity, phone and television providers also suffer from a lack of Christmas cheer as they stick invoices up my hoop in December; the same invoices I could barely afford in September before I had this frankly ridiculous list of shit to buy for no particularly good reason.

My diet goes to shit, too. If you were to write down my regular diet on paper, it's not fantastic, I'll be the first to admit. But as soon as December 1st hits, add '....and a warm mince pie, with a scoop of Ben & Jerry's on top' to the end of every meal. It just makes the lie that I tell myself every year, that I'll get into top shape again in January, even less believable.

And yet, none of this matters to me. I sit here now, writing this, watching the football with the Christmas tree lights on and, for some reason, a Santa model glowing at me from the fireplace, costing me money in electricity. I could look at everything that I've just written and adopt some sense, plug the fucking lights out and go for a run. I could get to work on making myself a more fit, better person. I could opt out of buying presents, decorations and all the other utter drivel that comes with the season and start planning for a financially healthier future. But I don't and I won't.

I cannot actually think of one good reason that this exists, much less in my sitting room, much less why I've chosen to leave it switched on all afternoon.
The default plot to every Christmas movie these days is based around a family with every reason to be happy around them, then something fucked up happening and spoiling all of that, then the spirit of Christmas somehow bringing them all back together (either spiritually, or physically if said Christmas movie is 'Home Alone', which is the one I'm thinking of in writing this example if you haven't noticed), and even if the circumstances aren't ideal, they realise that they have something to be happy about because they need that spirit to make them realise it.

"You NEED me!"
Maybe there is no point to the bells and whistles that accompany Christmas. Maybe it is the most maddeningly pointless tradition known to human-kind. But maybe the total of all the sum-parts is somehow exactly what we need as a society: just an excuse. An excuse that forces us to at least TRY and be happy for a while. To at least TRY to forget about our own day-to-day problems and think of what the people around us actually mean to us. To at least TRY and stop for a second and say, "Woah, you know what, things aren't actually so bad." Even if it doesn't always work, even if the ever-growing number of accessories we add to the season each year are mind-blowingly insane, even if it doesn't seem ultimately worth it when it's all said and done.

Maybe it's all just an excuse to go on both an individual and combined adventure together and re-evaluate, and remember, what matters to us. And, if so, I think it's pretty fucking amazing what we've come up with to do just that.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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