Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Wishing you a pragmatic and chilled out Christmas

Every year I spend three days telling myself "I can't believe it's Christmas. Pay attention, blink or you'll miss it. It's a special occasion, focus." Then, before I know it, like any other three-day period in my life, it's over. Just like everyone else- I set myself up for disappointment. I've been spending today doing what friends & colleagues have been doing for weeks, what we call "getting ready for Christmas". In reality this refers to tidying, trudging round shops, decorating our houses, putting up them trees and all the other things that need to be put in place to make our Christmas Day look like a Christmas Card. We fetishise the idea of a white Christmas for this reason, we want our lives to ressemble this ideal image of a Christmas like the idealised ones we pretend to remember.

As a country we've been building up to this day for the best part of three months. Short of the Second Coming/Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, anything else is bound to be a disappointment. I don't know if it's my imagination, but we seem more cynical and jaded about the whole thing. Maybe I just hang around with like-minded people, but no-one I know is inherently miserable and joyless, but as a whole they can't be bothered with this whole charade. Personally, if I'd been spending all my free time in shops for the past three weeks and spending an average of £300 on presents I would need something almost supernaturally fantastic in order to make it all seem worthwhile. As you can see below, just one afternoon in the shops brought me to the edge of despair. I think in general we're starting to see through the whole thing- this is potentially a good thing, but a possible outcome is that we'll just greet it with cynicism and misery, or try and ignore it.

But what's the point in feeling down?- the whole aim of solstice/christmas was to cheer us up in the middle of winter (and to subvert a pagan festival- see "Born in June" below). Let's focus on the positives for a change shall we? We get a few much needed days off, get to spend them with families and have a decent meal. Loads of people would kill for less. So why not just accept Christmas for what it is- a holiday, nothing more and nothing less (unless you believe Jesus really was born on December 25th, but you've got your sure and certain belief in an afterlife to keep you going.). Rather than spending a fucking fortune and trying to be superhuman, why not just chill out, lie about as much as possible, and have some fun. It doesn't mean you've sold out to the consumerist dream, after all.

So that's my wish for all of you. Chill out, eat some mince pies, chat, take the piss out of the Queen's speech, and don't be a hero. Anything else is just crying out to be disappointed.


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