Being a Scrooge at Christmas is nothing to be proud of, or to apologise for. As far as I know, having reservations about this great festive break is perfectly legitimate.
I was saying to my wife, before Christmas kicked-off, that we should not try our best to create an occasion that is ‘perfect’. Christmas and New Year just happen to fall at the end of a Roman calendar year with many believing that Jesus was actually born at the end of February or beginning of March. I have read that it was good old-fashioned Roman pragmatism that decided to enjoin the winter solstice with the newly popular religion that was Christianity. As far as Rome was concerned, it was a perfect solution to pressing political problems concerned with keeping their newly subjugated populations pacified. Ale, drugs, fornication and a big fat grin can go a long way to staving off those dark winter nights. Who could not like it?
Perfection is a dangerous goal. It goads us into trying to achieve it whilst knowing that none will. Falling short means a descent into self-recrimination and guilt; once again, on that very special day, you have failed. You have failed on that one moment in time when failure so clearly denotes your personal flaws and philosophical shortcomings.
“We’re meant to fail at Christmas,” I told her as we were leaving the carpark of a large supermarket chain having failed to secure a last-minute bargain turkey.
My wife agreed but still felt obliged to press on with the affair.
There is something in Christmas that allows us to be virtuous and virtue is measured in a number of ways, amongst which having a firm belief in Christmas is Number 1. Having a Jeremiah such as me, sitting in the car on Christmas Eve, being rational about the chances of Christmas being a little bit of a let-down is not what a person needs when they are on the hunt for a turkey (when the last minute thing looks indanger of failing, badly).
I don’t like turkey. It’s difficult to cook, tastes of thin air, hangs around like an unwanted ghost, and has hidden giblets. No matter what we do, we often miss the giblets and only realise this when the smell of roasting plastic fills the home. This happened again, resulting in newly cooked bird taking its swansong as it made its way from oven to bin. I think that it tasted just the same but without the dull consistency that breast and leg would have provided. We had vegetables instead. And they were good.
People at Christmas are not perfect. Families wish to see each other to exchange gifts and wishes for the year to come. Friends stay and then can overstay before attempting to impart some virus that they have inexplicably contracted whilst stewing themselves in the entirety of your alcohol reserves. It turns out that you could, indeed, be the carrier rather than the fact that large amounts of alcohol has reduced your guest’s capacity to ignore otherwise insignificant bugs. Just how many Christmasses will it take to understand this troubling titbit?
Then it creaks to a halt with a little wassailing and Old Bloody Langs Sine. Let’s hold hands and sing some fetid lyrics about forgetting how turd-like some of us can be when we’re not pissed (British for drunk as a skunk), before pretending that a new day will make everything better.
Now the tree has gone down, this is part of our contribution to aiding climate change, and it will soon be in a festive skip and heading for some friendly land-fill across the other side of town. Our guest has gone home, our eldest daughters have returned to university and work, and Christmas has finally gone with all those poor lyrics that are sung by people attending carol concerts.
Next time you sing some in which words are purposely mispronounced or elongated beyond possible recognition, think on. If we sing terrible songs, what is the rest of the season going to be like?