Remember going through Argos when you were a kid, putting together a Christmas list that grew and grew until you could basically open your own Animal Hospital with the amount of merchandise you were going to get? It’s very stark when, as an adult, you have to interact with Argos – it’s not magical at all. The last thing I bought from Argos was an expensive laptop charger that didn’t work. It just doesn’t compare to writing those tiny numbers next to your request for a Barbie Jeep and then handing it to your parents as politely as possible.
The truth is I’m not feeling very Christmassy this year. And more – I don’t think I really care? Last year I know I wasn’t getting into the spirit of it, and I think that I was upset and unnerved by that. There’s things I do like about Christmas: the amount of effort my family put into decorating the house and sending off cards to everyone on a list and putting all our presents into big sacks that go in the living room on Christmas morning. And I like the songs. But it’s the same way I like World Cup songs (I hate football) – you’ll catch me listening to I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day the way I listen to This Time for Africa or Three Lions which incidentally are absolute tunes.
There’s so many things I don’t like about this time of year, though. Poinsettias. Mince pies. Afternoon TV (when do you ever watch anything in the afternoon any other time of year?). Having to wear tights to family parties and then taking my shoes off and feeling like I’ve just got back from a night out except I haven’t been anywhere. The horrible, horrible pressure that draws a red marker circle around my lack of feelings and scribbles a load of big question marks next to it.
Also it is dark almost 24/7, as in the horror film 30 Days of Night, 2007, dir. by David Slade, starring Josh Harnett.
There’s other things that make it a bit difficult: I don’t know what I want to do after I graduate, so when people ask me at get-togethers I’m going to panic and make a series of ill-thought-out jokes. I have kind of shoddy mental health, and my brain often throws a tantrum at Christmas as if it’s allergic to Santa hats and Top of the Pops specials, leaving me and my ability to be a nice and fun person in the lurch. Also I’m going to be working, a LOT, in a shop where customers are, understandably, going to be stressed.
Basically, I’m getting freaked out. And I’m trying to write my Christmas list and I keep thinking about those horrible, horrible posts people on Facebook make about “wanting things for Christmas you can’t put on a list”. I want abstract things like a Labour government and good skin and a sense of inner peace and purpose as much as the next person, but admitting that doesn’t help anyone.
I think for Christmas this year I want everyone to calm down and be nice. Specifically to me. I will accept this niceness in the form of compliments about my hair, about my knowledge of guinea pigs and the French Revolution, and about my future (you can just make those up, don’t worry).