Why I’m Not Feeling Festive
JESS FRANKLIN tells us why the holiday season is nut all it’s cracked up to be…
It’s Christmas! But Father Christmas is dead, Mandela doesn’t exist, and the mother of the nation’s kitchen is cracked up, not just on Christmas crackers. Regents Street’s ‘Christmas lights’ are actually an advert for an American cartoon “Mr Peabody and Sherman”, my angora bedsocks scream in my dreams, and Beyonce’s Christmas album is all about depressing blow jobs.
Despite discovering Sainsbury’s freshly baked puff pastry mince pies, I’m still not feeling festive. But my plan to decorate the Christmas tree with Mum and the Top-100 Xmas playlist backfired because she cried every time a new Christmas song came on and started talking about how it was our first Christmas without Grandma. I don’t think she even liked Wham.
Church makes me feel perturbed, but the dubious segues offered by priests are almost as fun as riding on a real Segway. I went to a school church service where the priest began with “This week, a light went out”. That light was Nelson Mandela (I’m a youth so I enjoyed this contemporary reference), but the message proceeded to draw a tenuous comparison between Mandela’s light and that of Christ’s. I was lost during the next few minutes thinking about whether those trainers with separate toes will ever be cool, but the priest’s conclusion was that we were to “turn on our lights this Christmas”. I think this will stay with me, and I’ll enjoy opening my presents in a well-lit room.
Christmas drinks parties can be testing. I’ve started to enjoy pretending to forget the names of smug parents’ children, just to take them down a few pegs. My particular bone of contention is when they say “Lucy’s studying at Christchurch now”, and you’re just meant to assume that that’s Christ Church, Oxford. The best way to handle such gross snobbery is to tell them that Christchurch is a charming town and how you didn’t realise they had a University there now. Then down your champagne, stride into the cashmere/silk blend crowd and kick their Cocker Spaniel.
Relatives pose a strain at Christmas time too. When people say “Christmas is all about spending time with family” I’ll start opening a walnut so I don’t have to respond. My aunt came round with a bundle of Christmas presents which I would have saved for Christmas had she been bothered to wrap them. Fortunately for you merry readers, they were unwrapped so I can tell you what I got:
A bar of soap from my dead grandmother’s bathroom.
When the Christian Union came to our school and did their Christmas assembly it always started with the phrase “you know what, guys? I think Christmas IS about the presents!” It made Christianity seem relevant and quite hip, so I’d go along to their Christmas bible group for a mince pie, forgetting that we had to pray for an hour beforehand to stop them disappearing or something.
I’m not a Christmas hater. I’m not that guy. Only 15-year-olds say they hate Christmas and they’re not cool. But this holiday the whole thing has been a bit lost on me, and I think I now realise that when Avril Lavigne sang “spinning round with mixed feelings, crazy and wild – sometimes I wanna scream out loud” (“Mobile”, Let Go, 2002), she was talking about Christmas.