I don't really enjoy Christmas all that much, not really. It has always struck me as rather a lot of work for just one day's ... what? frivolity? I don't know that that's the right word. The cultural pressure surrounding Christmas is immense - the sheer volume of expectation imposed on us by the media is frightening. You're supposed to feel inadequate if you don't lose pounds before the office party, if you don't wear the right sparkly clothes, if you don't make your own sausage rolls, if you don't decorate your house with greenery gathered from your own woodland, and on and on.
I mean, we all know this, the relentless Christmas advertising that starts at the end of October doesn't exactly come as a surprise, and I'm sure I'm not the only person to think this. Okay, getting presents is always lovely but I can't stand being constantly asked what it is I want, just for the sake of buying me a present purely because it's Christmas and that's what's expected.
This, of course, does not apply to The Lovely Husband who is very good and always extremely generous with my gifts - I always get something fabulous that I couldn't have afforded to buy for myself which means I treasure each and every one - last year it was a fantastic Panasonic DMC-FZ28 camera with SDHD card and card reader, the year before it was the top of the range iPod, the year before that a Paragon SC2 kiln. Previous years have seen a Palm Pilot and Meisterstuck Fountain and ballpoint pen set (yes, the one that went walkabout earlier this year). Which all makes me sound very materialistic, which I suppose I am. I like nice things. So that bit of Christmas I don't actually mind at all.
It's everything else that gets me down. Admittedly, online shopping I've found to be an absolute godsend as I can now avoid the horrors of trying to locate somewhere to park and then battling through crowds in overheated shops in order to find they're out of stock anyway. And Christmas cards - I can't see the point of sending cards to someone that you see on a regular basis (Mum and Da, Chris and Sarah - this is why you haven't had a card from us). I now only send them out to family and friends (and ex-husbands) that I may not clap eyes on from year to year.
I don't think the weather at this time of year helps much either - wintry gloom is just naturally depressing. How much nicer it would be if we could be guaranteed bright, sharp, sparkingly white and frosty days with blue, blue skies and brilliant sunshine. That would cheer me right up. Or a decent snowfall, that would be good too.
Perhaps I'd feel more amicable towards it if I'd managed to have kids, but that's something I'm never going to find out.
My ideal Christmas would be one spent on a sunny tropical beach somewhere, drinking Mojitos and Mai-Tais, avoiding the whole sorry business of this year's reality show's Christmas Special and enforced jollity. I've managed to do this once, in 1989. It was fabulous and every year at this time I dream about it....
PS. Although what would cheer me up is a trip on Boxing Day to see "Britain's Top Elvis Impersonator" as advertised on a huge banner across an Indian restaurant near where my brother lives....
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