Tis the season

Of all the challenges I have faced this year alcohol free, Christmas is a going to be one of the least challenging. While for many of my acquaintance it’s a time for excessive drinking, I’ve never needed to be drunk to have a good time – I don’t need to fill myself full of spirits at Christmas to be full of Christmas spirit. Ho ho ho.

Being an alternative lefty anti socialist agnostic type,  this time of year can often make me feel a little it’s always a little awkward. Because I love Christmas. I really, really, REALLY love Christmas. I always have. I went through a phase in my late teens/early twenties where I pretended to hate it to look cool to my gothy friends and Christmas hating boyfriend, but on the inside I  knew I was kidding myself.

I have been challenged over the years by various people over why I celebrate Christmas.  For example – I am not religious at all. I went to a Church of England junior school where we had carol services, nativity scenes and seasonal lessons about the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas. I always found it easier to believe in Santa than Jesus as a child, and considered the bible and the nativity story as likely to be made up as Santa, but less fun, so decided there and then that it wasn’t for me. But I still loved Christmas. When challenged by people of faith as to why I’d celebrate something I don’t believe in I mumble something about pagan festivals and winter solstice but to be honest I’m talking out of my tinsel covered ass. It’s not anything to do with Yule – although it’s a good excuse and not a bad way to avoid a debate.

I’ve been challenged on my known aversion to excess commercialisation. ‘Black Friday’ gives me the absolute rage – first of all I live in the UK and it SHOULDN’T EVEN BE A THING. Secondly when people are saying things like “I don’t even know how much it costs, I don’t know even know if I’m going to buy it. I just wanted something,” it’s an indication to be that we have a serious problem with an acquisition culture here.  I dislike the overly commercial aspect of Christmas – typified by a chain’s annual advert becoming an eagerly awaited institution. I should admit at this point I haven’t seen this chain’s Christmas adverts since 2012 when I suspect that my reaction of FUCK IT’S A SNOW WEEPING ANGEL wasn’t what they intended. But to be honest, it’s pretty easy to ignore the commercialism. I don’t own a TV, I have no children,  no desire to own the latest version of any particular piece of technology, and family and friends who appreciate thoughtful presents picked out for them over the latest fad or gadget. You can be bothered by the commercialisation of Christmas without buying in to it or letting it ruin it for you. For people that love Christmas, the fact that companies try to make all the money can’t take away our sparkly christmas joy.

It’s not even about family or tradition. I’m not expected to go ‘home’ for christmas, having grown up in a slightly unconventional family set up. Generally I get to choose where I am on the day and I tend to go with the flow. Of course, that’s possibly one reason why I do like it. I am given to understand that for some people going ‘home’ for christmas means days on end of family arguments, passive aggressiveness, tears and disappointment. I’ve experienced very few Christmases like that for which I am grateful.

I just…I just love Christmas. I love Santa. Christmas music. Fake snow. Decorations. Sparkly lights. Jingly bells. Snow, or even just the hope of snow (which is kind of better than actual snow, as hope of snow is always magical and actual snow means slush and cyclist fear.) Even when I am on my own, as I am this year, I find it hard to feel down about Christmas. I have had some really wonderful solo Christmas days. I’ve bought MY TREEmyself all the food I like, spent all day eating and watching dreadful christmas TV and not  getting dressed all day. In fact, I usually get myself special Christmas day pyjamas so when I wake up I can put my new pyjamas on. I am single this year and knew there was absolutely no reason to buy a tree. But I got one anyway. I decorated it this evening while watching the Sesame Street 1978 Christmas Special  (If you can watch all of this and not feel even a little bit festive then there’s no hope for you, you big old grinch.) My tree makes me so happy I almost have a little cry when I look at it.

I even love Christmas shopping, despite my aversion to crowds. I like finding the *perfect* little thing for a friend or my half-brother rockstar pirate and half-sister dinosaur princess. I like watching them open the gifts and seeing them smile. I like how other people seem happier at Christmas time – whether you’re religious or not there really does seem to be more goodwill and generosity at this time of year. People wishing each other ‘Merry Christmas’. People smiling. People wearing silly hats. Serious people wearing really stupid christmas jumpers.

I’ve been wondering if part of my love of Christmas is that I am a big old emotional sponge. Over the last few months I’ve noticed that even though I am not drinking, if I am out with a group of happy drunk friends I can almost feel drunk just on the atmosphere. Perhaps something similar is happening with Christmas – I am soaking up the joy and the goodwill of all the people around me also loving Christmas.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why I still love it in the face of some of my best friends absolutely loathing Christmas and being utterly perplexed at my seeming boundless joy in fake trees and plastic snow and really ugly fibre-optic reindeer. Or as one friend put it, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU”.

There’s just something that makes me happy about Christmas and I would be hard pressed to say why. I couldn’t tell you why purple is my favourite colour. It just is.  I couldn’t tell you why I love dodgems (that’s British for ‘bumper cars’ for the Americans reading), or why they make me laugh so much I cry. They just do.  And I can’t tell you why I love Christmas. It  just makes me happy.

One of my relatively recent Christmas traditions is to go to ‘Sing-Along-A-Muppet Christmas Carol‘ with a good friend. I mentioned to her that I had this difficulty with not being able to explain why I loved Christmas so much. I have no reason to celebrate it. As the ghost of christmas past started singing “it’s true wherever you find love it feels like Christmas” she nudged me and said “just write the lyrics of this song in your blog. Job done.”