[I now have internet. I am now going to download all of the internet. Ever.]
…Day 8: Charity
So I’m not going to claim to be a particularly selfless person when it comes to monetary values – mostly because any spare income I have to give would definitely be guffawed at by the most downtrodden of downtroddens. But I do like to think of myself as a fundamentally giving person: I’ll hold the door for you; I’ll offer you the last slice of pizza despite it having some of my drool on it, etc.
Lynch me if you will, but one big annoyance for me during the festive period is the amount of charity plugging.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the outrageous amount of abandoned pets (honestly, if you’re the type of person to get a dog for your brat of an offspring only to immediately obey their first dislike at having to clear up a poo, I pity the person your child grows to be.)
I also understand that this time of year has a movie-like effect on people to give unto others and all.
But when the usual ‘sponsor a pet’ stall at the entrance of Debenhams (which I usually give my spare cash to) begins to shove pictures of a three-legged dalmatian in my face, I get a big miffed.
“I’m really sorry, but I don’t like giving out my direct debit details,” I admit.
“But it’s Christmas…,” they snort.
“Uh… ok, yes, but that does not deter from my fundamental cautiousness of bank fraud. Now, I’m happy to give you the three pound per m…”
“Miss, do you UNDERSTAND how your money could SAVE animals like HOOCH?!” – immediately my face is met with an image of a staffy with 10% skin and one eye, cowering in a cage in a crack den. Woah.
“It’s Christmas, miss. It’s Christmas…”
Yes, now is the time to really hone in on that key clientele, but when someone is clearly waving a five pound note in your face to detract from the injured animal Polaroid you’re flashing, something tells me that this isn’t really about charity.
Something tells me that this is actually about commission.
…Day 7: Carolers
Regardless of our views on Christmas, we’re all guilty of humming/miming/full on Mariah Careying a good Christmas carol.
Whether ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ or ‘Silent Night’ is our chosen ballad, we all know the first three lines and can’t help but belt them out with such festive joy that the fact we hum the rest of the tune with uncertainty is overlooked.
Until we hear a knock at the door.
Missed post? No. Unpaid bill? Probably, but not at that stage… yet.
Oh it’s just complete strangers with simple efforts in outfits (some mistletoe in a coat pocket, a bonnet or two, maybe even a Santa hat) immediately bellowing a hymnbook number with such passionate operatics that you’re momentarily stunned.
And so… they get you.
You’ve been silently dazed for so long that when you come to, the time has passed when you can politely smile and close the door. You’ve unknowingly endured a full verse of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and now have to continue smiling and slightly bopping along.
You can’t close your door, can you? Surely pretending to be deaf or blind of have multiple personalities would be wrong… no?
What do they even want? Is it money? Are they for a charity? They don’t have the same aggressive advertising as DogsTrust. So, they’re poor? They don’t look homeless. That bonnet is definitely vintage…
Maybe they just want your congratulations. Continue smiling but interrupt from time to time to congratulate individual singers for their particular notes. That should do the trick. Still singing? Damn…
It’s all too awkward for people like me to endure. And I assume everyone else is the same – which is why peep-holes are my gift to everyone. YOU’RE WELCOME.
…Day 6: Re-gifters
Boxing Day sales. Ahhh, the reason why many of us stop drinking on Christmas at midnight – to have the strength to survive such an endeavor. Soap sets reduced to £2, DVDs at £3 – the perfect time to treat yourself and others who have birthdays coming up at all within the next 12 months.
April time: oh, it’s Christina’s birthday tomorrow (or so the work email tells you at 10pm the night before.) So you clamber into the loft to fish out some Crimbo bargains and, lo’ and behold, a body butter box set reduced from £14 to £3. Woo. Simply rip off the reduced sicker. Argh, it left a distinct piece of paper that won’t scrape off. Easy peel my arse. Anyway: signed, sealed, delivered!
Nothing else is ever said by Christina. No forearm is rammed into your face the day after to sniff the freshly bathed skin laced with hair and coconut undertones. She’ll definitely use it soon.
And as quickly as your supply of reduced Christmas mints runs out, it’s the festive season once again and the exchange of office Secret Santa (see below for this rant.)
You tear open your anticipated box with a childlike merriment and recognise a familiar box. Coconut body butter. Oh, maybe you had this before. Christina smiles with demonic hysteria as she reveals she’s your Santa. Oh, Christina, you delightful beaut. Sweet friend of mine, how you treat me so… wait. The label has a familiar label residue. This… wait. It couldn’t be. Oh.
Oh the audacity!
This is! This is the same gift you gave that bitch. A re-gift of the highest degree. You hug Christina (complete with an elbow jab, accidental of course) and remind yourself of her nut allergy for next April…
… Day 5: Preachers
My mum’s best joke about Christmas is to tell everyone her favourite parts: “I love the family time, the gift giving, the television… but most of all, I love that I remember what it’s all about… the baby cheeses.” Her ability to make this sound like ‘baby Jesus’ has her immediately in stitches and the joke recipients chuckling in a cringing manner.
Being brought up in a Christian household, I understand that Christmas is meant to be about celebrating the birth of a wee dude who later ate loads of Easter Eggs and died for Kim Kardashian.
I get that.
So the last thing I need at the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is people shitting all over my best eBay purchases by reminding me that Christmas is about everything but presents and then continuing to explain the entire Nativity without any adorable toddlers to act out parts.
Why assume that I’m all about the presents? Maybe my favourite part of Chistmas is the fact mozzarella sticks are free-flowing? Or that there’s a specific channel on Sky showing endless cheesy films?
Sure, Christmas has been corrupted by the mainstream media and, possibly, Kim Kardashian’s Instagram, but let’s just accept this and enjoy it in our own way. I’m pretty sure hypocrisy was one of the gifts from the Wise Men, no?
… Day 4: Expectants
You: “What do you want for Christmas?”
Friend #1: “Nothing…”
You: “There must be something…”
Friend #1: “Hmm… nah. I’m fine, thanks.”
You: “I really don’t know what to get you, though, and I don’t want to get you something for the hell of it.”
Friend #1: “Really, I don’t want anything. We don’t need to get eachother anything, we can just hang out. It’ll be lovely.”
So the Christmas party comes around – most likely on November 18th – and the gifts between your friends are exchanged. A half price bracelet here, some dusty Thornton chocolates there. Friend #1 hands you a small bag, beaming with joy. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” they squeal as your other numerically named friends grin and sigh sentiments. What on earth is this shit.
Taking the bag, smiling uneasily, you open it to find an old picture of both of you at some venue that will forever host a fondest memory. Damnit. You look around the table of expectant friends – whose eyes are darting round you trying to suss out where your present is – as your mind races through a list of acceptable reactions. Tip the table and run? No, too messy. Faint? Oh, that’ll only buy a minute or two.
“Oh, I thought we agreed that we weren’t going to exchange presents… so…” you admit. Ah, honesty. You went down that path.
They shuffle in discomfort, adjusting their cutlery in the hope that the slight shift of a salad fork will render them invisible. “Oh… well, hey. That’s fine,” smiles Friend #1, almost patronisingly. “It was just a little thing I thought you’d love.”
Jesus, this is horrible. Friend #6 and #9 are whispering about the importance of ‘thought’ and concluding that your budget could have stretched £3 for a TK Maxx photo frame. Getting frantic now.
“No! But you said you wouldn’t get anything either! I didn’t know! This is an act of unprecedented kindness and, quite frankly, I’m offended.”
“It’s Christmas,” pleads Friend #3. Urgh, Friend #3, how I loathe you.
“But she didn’t want anything!”
And so the Ghost of Christmas Awkwardness finally arrives and lays a sheet of silence over you and the table in the hopes of saving some scrap of festive cheer. All that is left is the slight clinking of glasses and plates as peas are pushed around, those friends still looking for an invisibility trigger.
You smile and make a mental note to never trust anything anyone ever says again. Bah, Humbug!
…Day 3: Christmas outfits
Bizarre, yes, but another annoyance about this festive season is the rather garish outfits donned by garish people throughout December.
Human beings put Rudolph noses on their dogs, sport snowman themed ties and host Christmas jumper parties. Meanwhile, even the Pound Shop is stocking ‘Saucy Mrs Claus’ outfits, comprised of two baubles and a bit of tinsel for all your kinkiest of kicks.
The outrageously loud ‘joker’ of the office must spring out of bed on the 1st and rush to his wardrobe in a sweaty fit of glee, break his wardrobe door off and sigh with joy at his collection of Christmas jumpers that have been locked in damp for the past 11 months.
Pulling on a red knitted number, complete with falling snowflakes, he adjusts his Santa hat to the perfect jaunty angle and head off to work.
And so the process is repeated every day until December 31st. Each time he enters the office doors, he bellows a different Christmas carol as loud as his jumper choice, jingling his hat along. And you cringe with distress.
Every year. Every. Single. God damned. Year.
… Day 2: Sales
Percentages were never my strong point in maths. Algebra, I killed. But percentages, nah. I would divide by 14 and multiply by 65, as I’m sure is the correct formula for any successful sum.
But even I understand that 10% off a £5 book isn’t worth punching a fellow-shopper in the face for.
Yes, the Christmas sales. Potentially one of my most loathed aspects of the year.
I haven’t even touched my chipolatas before adverts are flashing on screen, screaming about the ‘biggest sale ever’ beginning at midnight. Why would anyone waste their Christmas just so they can sober up and save £1.50 on a throw pillow, I snort to myself. But then I see my dad put down his glass of cava, clearly overwhelmed with potential savings. “Right, so are we off to town tomorrow?” Oh, God.
I don’t feel I have had adequate training this year for such a feat. Sure, my body combat classes have taught me how to successfully survive an attack (or at least not look like a flailing idiot when being attacked) but I’m pretty certain that I would have to have graduated several levels before even being introduced to Christmas Sales Survival. Isn’t there a belt for such an expertise? With shoppers’ teeth dangling from it?
Thankfully we missed the Boxing Day Madness – which I have learned from various newspaper articles was rife with frenzy. My wolf-whistling side kick would not have seen me past discounted socks.
Which brings me to my next annoyance: the sorry scraps left on December 27th. Those pitiful morsels that have barely survived the insanity of the previous shopping day. A pair of ripped size 6 jeans, a rogue flip-flop with the poorly glued jewel hanging off, pleading for help.
Even the staff are lost in a Vietnam-esque black out, shaking and bleary eyed. As I ask if there are any more No7 box sets that no one uses (ever) they snap back to life with a jolt and go to check in the back. After waiting ten minutes, I understand they are sobbing into their degree and are unlikely to be back.
So, admitting defeat, I return home with some £4 sandals that will go with absolutely nothing that I own and read the follow up newspaper articles claiming that no one went to any shop at all over Christmas and that the recession is worse than ever. Oh, Christmas.
…Day 1: Resolutions
Full disclosure: this is rather hypocritical of me what with my current “ONLY VEGETABLES AND AIR” diet I’m pretending to be on for January.
I hate New Years resolutions for a few reasons. The main one being they’re mostly bullshit.
I’ve found that there are two kinds of people: those who expect far too much of themselves; and those who expect nothing of themselves.
The first group of people make decisions purely fueled by banging hangovers on January 1st. They wake up with a tongue rougher than a badger’s arse and perhaps a lumber of a similar resemblance. They make a mental note on their ‘To Don’t’ list: “Alcohol. My ex.”
As the day goes on the list gets bigger. Their thigh jiggle catches their eye in the mirror: get to the gym. Their fridge is crammed with cheese and sausages: eat more vegetables. They’re on their last cigarette and the local shop is closed: stop smoking.
Before January 2nd arrives, they’re limited to kiwi shakes and tradmills for the rest of the year. Or, for 1 in 10 of them, the rest of the week.
Then we have the ‘resolution-less’ ones. The ones who are convinced that 2012 was such a blinder that 2013 is a gift, specially wrapped for them as a 12 month vacation to enjoy their happiness.
“So what’s your resolution?”
“Oh, I don’t have one. I don’t do resolutions.”
And so they list off the 400 reasons why their will-power is better than yours, implying they understand why you would have to change your ways.
And so you smile, sip your kiwi-shake and look forward to your curry and pub-crawl at the weekend.