So, we finally hit November and that crazy gang who have been counting down the days to Christmas since Boxing day are cranking up their attack on social media. Halloween is over, the memes are circulating, mostly the fairy Godmother telling Cinderella that at the strike of midnight Halloween ends and ‘bam Christmas carols everywhere’.
These people who have filled my newsfeed with Christmas all year long now think they are justified in filling it with MORE festive schmaltz because, as I write, it is ONLY 52 days, 12 hours, 27 minutes and 51 seconds away. And thrill upon thrill by the time you read this it could be minutes, hours and even days closer. Feel free to check any of the online countdown to Christmas clocks with their pretty falling snow animations. When did we last see snow at Christmas? Oh yes, I remember, 2010, the only time I wanted to get a plane out of the bleeding country. Why did I want to do that? Because I was trying so hard to ‘invent’ some Christmas magic for my son with a weekend in Rome.
I have been a single parent, with an only child, and very little extended family for almost the whole of my son’s life. For most of those years we were obliged to have my mother with us, for me that odd number of three was worse than if it had just been the two of us.
I tried so hard to make Christmas magical for my son.We were never going to have one of those huge family Christmases like the ones in those seasonal adverts that bombard our living rooms for 6 weeks (maybe more) in the run up to the big day. Further reinforcement that I could not bring the joy of Christmas into our home unless we had to drag out the ‘small’ table to seat all the extra people that graced us with their presence and presents. Ha! The small table with all the cousins cramped round, and always at least one awkward teen who’d rather be with the grownups sneaking the odd glass of vino, unnoticed by the adults stuffing their faces as the family bore regales them with tales of his/her achievements for the year. Sorry, I digress with a clear bitter resentment for all things ‘family Christmas’.
I eventually decided once my son wasn’t a baby or toddler anymore that Christmas away would be the best thing. We would be surrounded by happy revellers and the true spirit of Christmas would descend upon us, we would live happily ever after knowing that we had had a Christmas that others could only dream of. So off we popped to Butlins, Bognor. My son would have lots of children to play with, there would be entertainment providing much laughter and happiness.
When we finally emerged on Christmas morning (sporting our silly santa hats and reindeer antlers) ready to wave, smile and express our season greetings to one and all we were in for a bit of a shock. On Christmas Eve there had been a ‘Merder’ (best read in a Scottish accent, mimicking a well known detective). The place was crawling with scenes of crime officers, everything was closed, and all those who had travelled there by car had left. It was a ghost town. We, unfortunately had gone by train, and were stuck there for the duration. Thank goodness for Christmas telly.
Beneath all of this frivolity, cynicism and forced humour there is a more serious note. Christmas is hard, and for many reasons for many people. And when the over excited, overgrown kids start ramming it down your throat on the 1st of November, those of us who don’t ‘feel’ the magic have just that bit longer to feel crap about it.
On a lighter note (please) despite my best efforts with my son at Christmas, he went all weirdy ‘I hate Christmas’ a few years ago, which deflated me as I felt that somehow I had failed him. But last year, we probably had one of the best Christmases yet. Just the two of us. We had brunch, went to the pub (he’s 20 btw) , went to another pub, went home and watched films. When we were hungry we bunged a pizza in the oven. I spent no more on food that Christmas than I did any other week. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves, we actually felt liberated.
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