Fancy yourself a nice, quiet Christmas? No chance! Here's why...
Christmas draws near. Soon enough Santa Claus will be striding betwixt the creaking looms of his polar sweatshop, brandishing his candy cane cat o’nine tails and whipping his elves into a swivel-eyed frenzy producing redeemable Fortnite vouchers and fidget spinners or whatever shite kids are into these days. Then Santa rags his sleigh around the planet chugging one hundred thousand litres of wine on the fly; the most outrageous drink driver the world has ever known.
Yes, Christmas is Schrödinger’s holiday: at once exhilarating and dreary, grand and tacky, whimsical and corporate, jolly and miserable. And here’s a nice orderly list of everything that’s going to happen when you go home for it...
You thought you were in for a nice jolly listicle didn’t you, but no: Brexit. Brexit has in the last two years somehow acquired the conversational weight as words like abortion and euthanasia. The moment they are uttered, whether at family dinner or house party or wedding, you can practically hear everybody’s arsehole clenching. Well, it’s going to be Christmas soon, and somebody (read: your uncle) is going to bring up Brexit. And it’s going to be right as you’re tucking into your turkey, and your dad is going to take the bait, and it’s going to be an absolute shit show.
It’s icy cold outside and Shrek the Third is on telly, and you have a hot water bottle up your top and a plate of delicious mince pies cowering before you; t’is the season. Why on earth would you get dressed? Or showered? Or shave any part of you? Then when Shrek ends the screen goes black for the credits, and you are faced with your own sofa-bound reflection; lying in your underwear, legs spread startlingly wide, a lone bollock and/or tit hanging loose. A sliver of doughy midriff peers out from ‘neath your pyjama top, and your hair gleams with grease. Do you care? Do you bollocks. It’s Christmas!
It goes without saying, really. The Christmas holidays carry with them a great unspoken rule on drinking, and that’s that it is fine, always. Bucks fizz at 9am? Oh go on, it is Christmas after all! An entire bottle of red wine every day from the 16th of December through to the 2nd of January? It’s festive! Look, it’s barely even December and I’m shitfaced even as I write this. Honestly, smashed. I can barely see the keyboard. Wheeeew. What were we talking about again?
4. Christmas jumpers
I actually used to think these were great, and I vehemently maintain that I was ahead of the curve. My first Christmas jumper was acquired around 10 years ago, dark blue with Santa’s crimson face embroidered on the front. I felt very witty and exciting. Today everyone and their dog has one and I hate them now. The irony has gone too far. One person wearing a knowingly silly jumper may be
deemed ironic. Thousands of people crammed into a sweaty Wetherspoons, all gleefully wearing one of the three variants of that year’s Primark Christmas jumper is not ironic, it is very very lame. It’s like when you started saying ‘lol’ out loud as a funny quirky thing in the mid noughties. You still say it today, don’t you?
You will get vastly bigger, expanding in every direction at once like the aging universe. There’s no point fighting it. You are going to grow plump, and that’s okay. Every single person gets fatter at Christmas, so by comparison it looks like nobody has gained any weight. Christmas fat isn’t bad anyway. It’s merry, seasonal fat, like what a grizzly bear has. Yes you may be stunned at the sudden gut blossoming atop your belt and obscuring your feet, but take solace: it is a forgiving gut. It is newly earned fat and can be sheared off early in Jan by a fortnight of brisk wintry jogs through a frosted park.
You shall see your old mates and it shall go one of two ways:
WAY ONE: You will meet them in the pub and it will be lovely, nothing has changed, just like old times, banter zipping back and forth like a summer bee, god isn’t this nice, shared memories, remember that time Baz fell off the roof at school trying to fetch the football, remember when we all went camping and Sarah fell into nettles and Kyle shit his pants, haha, hahha, ha, amazing.
THE OTHER WAY: One third of your friendship group now live in the city and talk about clients a lot. One third has never left your hometown and now own cars and houses on the same street you learned to ride your bikes. One third are drinking faster than everybody else and casually swipe through Tinder as they chat. Try to find some common ground, anyway. Hey, wasn’t it funny when Baz fell off the roof? ‘Actually, no,’ says Baz, who is called Barry now and works as an accountant, ‘I have sciatica and it is a living hell.’ Er, right. Shots, anyone?
7. Christmas Eve
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that Christmas Eve turns from wholesome family evening into a monstrous piss up, but come the 24th there we all are, regardless: the Red Lion, windows steamed up, air thick and humid as everybody sweats through their ironic Christmas jumpers. Slade is playing, and every seven minutes a glass smashes somewhere and everybody cheers. Your high school crush is there and even though it’s been ten years and they’re not particularly attractive anymore you’re still too scared to talk to them. A guy you sat next to in year 8 woodwork is shouting deep into your earhole and bathing you in breathy lager fumes, reminiscing about the good old days and getting your name wrong.
‘Oi,’ says your mate with the expensive haircut and very clean trainers and dark rings under his eyes, ‘I got some beak in. You fancy it?’
What? What? You can’t just… you can’t do drugs on the very eve of Christmas, you heretic! You swine! It is not festive in the slightest! Egad, Santa’s little elves would weep if they only knew! What in the blazes has happened to you Nathan?
‘Yeah but do you want some though?’
Oh go on then.
9. You will ruin Christmas for yourself like you do every year because you are an incorrigible moron
Christmas morn cometh, and you wake in your bed. Your eyes ease open, bleary. Crisp white light lances in through the gap in your curtains. The air is thick and stale, and your mouth is dryer than a lizard’s foot. And what is that smell? That smell, my friend, is the kebab tray bursting with dried offal that squats atop your bedside table, beside a half finished tin of Dark Fruits and, for some reason, an entire block of cheese with a bite mark out of it.
Stumble downstairs to your giddy family and hiss like a demon when somebody heaves open the curtains and horrible sunshine beams in. Lie on the sofa and mope, and use your last ebbs of energy to lift your cheek muscles into something vaguely reminiscent of a smile when you are handed a gift to unwrap. Take the bucks fizz you are offered with a quivering hand and have a sip. Run to the toilet and vomit. Stumble back into the living room and collapse on the sofa and let Home Alone 2 wash over you.
At half past three your extended family arrive, mitten clad and rosy cheeked, fresh from the cold, and they hug you hello and you exchange pleasantries before slinking away to vomit again. Then the meal, oh god, the meal. A mound of food, an absolute mound. Would you like a beer? Would you like a wine? No, no, you will vomit again. All over your ironic Christmas jumper.