Now that it’s less than six weeks to Christmas, I feel okay about lifting my self-imposed ban on Christmas chatter. What I’d like to know is: are you more Grinch or Greeter? To fess up, I’m a Grinch. I bloody hate Christmas. There are a couple of reasons for this– some more legitimate than others, probably.


The oldest one is that I’m a December baby, and often got a lot of “combined” presents as a child, which I, being too young to understand the financial strain Christmas has on adults, bitterly resented. Now, as an adult, I completely understand the situation, but I still carry the lingering annoyance of never being able to get as excited about my birthday as kids with summer birthdays did.

The real reason I hate it, though, is because of the havoc it creates. For weeks before Christmas, even something as simple as doing the weekly shop becomes an outing  which has to be planned and executed with military precision. It begins with hours of waiting to get into the shopping center carpark, so it’s already stressful before you even get in the door of the place– and then there’s fact that the whole of Ireland seems to be trying to defy the basic laws of physics and somehow magically occupy the same space at the same time.

You’re pushed and shoved as you try to pick up items, and then you have the privilege of standing with your trolley for half an hour, in a line so long it gets in the way of every poor soul still trying to do their shopping, so the pushing and shoving continues. When you have, finally, managed to make your purchases, you then get to sit for another hour in the carpark, miserably looking at your watch and wondering if they’ve had the sense to leave the barrier up as it’s definitely been more than fifteen minutes since you paid your ticket and you don’t want to have to have a fight with the carpark man over the intercom, because what were you supposed to do– not pay until you were at the barrier, then abandon your car and run back to the machine?!

Of course, there is one upside: it’s so bone-freezingly cold outside that at least you don’t have to worry that your ice-cream has melted all over the rest of the shopping…!

And that’s another thing: the weather. God, but I hate winter weather. If I could just banish winter entirely from the calendar, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Snow. Rain. Grey skies that never end. The eternal, internal war between putting on the heating and just shivering quietly to death like a modern-day retelling of the Little Match-Stick Girl. (As least the hallucinations might be nice? Perhaps a hot celebrity will whisk me away to an equally hot destination where nobody has to wear anything warmer than a bikini for ever and ever and ever amen.)

December Christmas, as I’m sure everyone knows, is less about celebrating the best estimate for the birth of Christ (more likely to have been in March, if I remember right) and really a replacement for Pagan celebrations like Yule and Saturnalia after people converted and didn’t want to give up their old traditions. (It’s a bit like that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte was sad about giving up Christmas when she converted to Judaism.)

On one hand, I can see the rationale behind having a big celebration during what is otherwise the most dreary, miserable, and god-forsaken time of the year. On the other, I do question the wisdom of having a celebration that almost always requires travel and mobility at the worst possible time of the year for it. A few years ago when we had that big snow, I very nearly ended up stranded alone for Christmas, a prospect that left my mother almost hysterical with distress. I wasn’t really that bothered, myself, so long as I’d have had enough to eat.

Which brings me to my next point: irresponsible consumption. No, not shopping –I’m hardly likely to complain about that– but of calories. Why is it that at Christmas we’re perfectly happy to scarf down meals several times the size of what we’d normally consider eating? Because it’s “not Christmas” otherwise, right? Except then that leads to the January Horrors, where you have to avert your eyes not just from your credit card bill but also from your weighing scales.

…And last, but most definitely not least, there’s presents. I’m in two minds about presents, because half of it is awesome, and the other half is a hideous nightmare.

Giving presents? The most fun thing. I love shopping for presents for people (provided I have the sense to do it early enough that I don’t have to run the gauntlet as described above)– picking out what’s fun and suitable for people is a great pleasure, and giving a well-chosen present to somebody, which you can see they really love, is a true source of real joy.

Getting presents? Well, now, that’s the other side of the coin, isn’t it? See, the thing is, I’m a horrible, picky person. I like what I like, and I don’t like much else. The worst feeling in the world, to me, is a present that I don’t want. I avoid deception wherever possible, but you can’t be honest when you get a bad present. You can hardly say “It’s terrible– you keep it, but thanks” can you? A bad present is infinitely worse than no present at all, because you have to fake an emotion you don’t feel and then you’re also stuck with an item you don’t want and quite probably can’t use, and it’s supposed to somehow still be a great thing because “it’s the thought that counts”.

The thing is: it’s not the thought that counts. Let’s be honest. “The thought” isn’t going to make you look any slimmer in that ill-fitting jumper in the wrong colour which makes you look like you’re only halfway recovered from a bad flu. “The thought” isn’t going to make that perfume stop giving you a headache. And “the thought” definitely isn’t going to stop that face cream giving you blocked pores. But you smile and you nod because you can’t tell the truth, and you know you’re condemning yourself to getting the exact same thing next year, but there is literally nothing you can do about it. (Other than question whether or not your own gifts were as suitable as you thought they were, sending you into a spiral of self-doubt and misery.)

I’d be quite happy to completely refrain from the exchange of presents except with people I’m really close to– people I can pick out items for while feeling secure in the knowledge that they’ll actually like it, and who know me well enough to buy me things I would like rather than just to be seen to be giving me something. Apparently, though, that’s “offensive, not festive”, and so the cycle continues– for all of us, as I think pretty much everyone on the face of the Earth is guilty of “regifting” by this point.

So, it is really all doom and gloom? Well, no. I love seeing people full of Christmas cheer. Some of those songs are fun and catchy. Christmas jumpers (in the right size, and colour) can be really cute. The Christmas lights keep streets that would otherwise be damp and dreary illuminated and pretty. Christmas movies are pretty entertaining (I hope they show Home Alone on at least one channel). And I’m pretty sure I’m actually getting some awesome presents this year.

Maybe I’ll just put the tree up. And maybe a few little lights. And maybe I’ll wrap a few presents. I wonder if I still have that CD of Christmas songs from when I was kid…


Are you a Grinch or a Greeter? What’s your favourite holiday season? What gifts are you most excited to give or get this year? Drop me a line and let me know!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: