BAH HUMBUG: Five Reasons Why I'm Not Happy With Christmas

Tomorrow will be my twentieth Christmas. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen the presents under the tree or smelt the roast rousing me from my slumber yet, but this year […]

2011 and business is still poor; Santa needs more iPad orders.

Tomorrow will be my twentieth Christmas. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen the presents under the tree or smelt the roast rousing me from my slumber yet, but this year I have yet to catch the festive spirit. That’s pretty bad for Christmas eve. Bah humbug, I know, but after so many Christmases it’s starting to spoil like a fairly decent song after two weeks on Radio 1.

In the run up to Christmas, I have noticed a few things – five in particular – that irk me year after year. No doubt they’re starting to get under your skin too, and in lieu of the eternal human condition, I present to you five hundred or so words of festive grumpiness, set to the theme of five Christmas spoilers that set to ruin our only decent holiday season.

Christmas Lights

It’s true, people: the Grinch is greener than old Santa. It may be a stretch to call these gently pulsing stabs of green and yellow light an eyesore amid the temporarily festive dinginess of winter, sure, but do grant me this: they sit there for hours glittering like the coal munching LED demon-fairies that they are, and as I face the telly watching Masterchef repeats for hours on end, the glare of the lights on the tree prove too much for my streaming eyes to handle. In an act of festive depravity, I get up from the sofa and turn them off, only to be greeted by the resounding dismay of my family members. It’s the only light I get battered over for turning off. Mental.

Shopping for Christmas

My food shopping for the week usually sits comfortably in a basket. Even Christmas at home doesn’t warrant more than half a shopping trolley’s worth of crappy junk food and indulgent, overpriced festive snacks with a plump turkey plonked in the middle. Our own trolley may look like some sort of chocolately poultry shrine, but it is nothing compared to the mountains of mass baked yule logs, Mini-Rolls and chocolate cakes piled up on others. Who needs that much cake, anyway? There are enough of them on some trolleys to outdo several consecutive roasts by sheer mass. Presents are a similarly exasperating experience. Buying presents is a stressful, wallet-burning enterprise. The only time it’s worthwhile is when your loved one’s face lights up as the wrapping comes off her gift. Then she sees the price sticker on the side. Damn.

Shopping for Necessities

Even worse is shopping for things you need in the supermarket while all the other hurried wankers crowd the bread isle, presumably to add yet more crumbly fodder to their army of gingerbread men. Last week I saw a woman grab an armful of shampoo into her trolley full of cake, biscuits, tins and oranges before rushing off to the alcohol section. Either her idea of a Christmas stocking is to fill it with as many banal, mundane things as possible, or she was preparing for a nuclear winter. If it’s the former, her kids are at least sorted for the coming apocalypse. Now that’s another commercial bandwagon I’m forcing myself not to complain about.

Cliff Richard

My attempts to get this man to face charges levelled by the European Court of Justice have thus far been in vain, but even if the law won’t recognise it, this man may well have been the death of decent Christmas music, and hence, Christmas itself. His dastardly tool of destruction? Mistletoe and Wine. A song that will haunt the darkest recesses of retail stores, tellies and radio stations until the end of time. A song that crawls into the mind and plucks out any vestige of festive spirit left in the dusty catacombs that house my thoughts with terrifying efficacy. A song I have linked below, guaranteed to quell anything positive you have to say about Christmas in response to my incessant grumpiness.


Forced Jollity

Oh, don’t be so grumpy – it’s Christmas, for goodness sake! The last time I heard these words, I awoke from a blind rage with my verbal assailant lying in a pool of her own blood. Before you go dialling 999, let my defend my actions. There is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that one ought to be happy in such-and-such circumstances. The idea is that if you’re well off and your parents do well, you’d better put a smile on your face because for you, Christmas is going to be grand. Does this not ring philosophical alarm bells?

The place of our parents or ourselves in the economy does lend to some measure of happiness, but the story isn’t as simple as that. No one should have to put on a smile despite their splintering family, and if anyone is made truly happy by an expensive Christmas present, then I’d wager those select people are no more than robots in disguise. Christmas is great when the family is tight and the food is good, and for a lot of people that is not a reality. For a terribly unlucky few, it never has been.

On the other side of the coin, being grateful for that flatscreen television will never make up for the impoverished family eating their frozen festive snacks while someone else in the same city tucks into a sizeable cut of honey roasted gammon. Before you accuse me of espousing some kind of ivory tower Christmas communism, all I’m saying is this: when you can’t afford to give your family a decent roast or your family has splintered, and while our country is still obsessed with the idea that better presents equal a better Christmas, a lot of people are reasonably entitled to frown as heavily as they like.

In Defence of Scrooginess

You might have received the impression that I hate Christmas. That’s not quite true. I love Christmas when it actually works. When it manages to foster decent social relations between friends, or actually brings families together. You may call me this year’s biggest scrooge, but it happens far less for everyone than we’d all like it to. Here’s hoping this year is different, and on that bombshell I wish you a very merry Christmas. I genuinely hope that it is merry, since after all those December deadlines and all those hours slaving away at part time work, we all deserve some roasted chestnuts, a mug of mulled wine and some of that sparse goodwill the winter season is purported to offer.