Thursday, November 23, 2006

[festive spirit] time to hibernate until late january

How do you like the new winter header? One reader accused me of gratuitous bonhomie in the middle of an English winter but I protest that there is not one santa to be seen, not one cross and not one reference to Christmas anywhere in the new design. It’s the new non-faith-specific design.

Today people were out in force, pre-buying New Year gifts, bless their hearts. Not me. Twenty years ago, I vowed never, never, never to do Christmas again. The reason was an extended family get-together on December 25th where everyone was doing his or her best to make conversation and enjoy the whole sorry day, all for the sake of the grandparents and the children. Well, all right, fair enough.

Then came present time. I’d earlier asked people what the other family members might like and so had dutifully bought brass candle holders, photo frames, mid-market quality wine, children’s things and so on for each member of each family. At the end of the day, I departed with a total haul of one handkerchief which you could never take out, even in the privacy of one’s bathroom, one lower-shelf bottle of plonk and two cards. I asked my mother afterwards, while driving her home, if she’d enjoyed the day.

‘It was appalling,’ she ungraciously replied. I’d never before realized she felt that way. There and then I asked permission never to be asked to attend one of these things again and she most graciously acceded, adding, ‘It’s all right for you – you can get out of them.’ Actually, she had enjoyed the company and I was being unreasonable and I did inwardly decide to go through with it all again the following year but it never happened. I went overseas during the year.

This year James Scrooge has told everyone we’ll be away and not to count us in but I wish them all the very best and please have a lovely time. Is that the wrong festive spirit?

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