A Retro Christmas

Originally posted Tuesday, 12th January 2010

Looking out of my window, you would forgive me if I thought it was winter in the Arctic Circle out there, but it’s just another new year in this topsy-turvy world. The Noughties are now behind us and we are swiftly moving into the, as of now, unnamed decade. Another Christmas gone. As I saw in the window of a camping goods shop, “Now is the winter of our discount tents” (a Shakespearean quip for those old school literary types).

It is the only time of the year when it is socially acceptable to get excited about a Chris De Burgh song.

As a child, the Christmas holidays always had a magical feel about it. All the decorations and the music that we only get to see and hear at this time of year. But Christmas music is now officially dead, and we have the X Factor to thank largely for this. For four long years there was never any doubt who would be Christmas number one. But this year Rage Against The Machine stormed to number one in the UK with their festive offering, Killing in the Name. Quite a victory for cynicism at supposedly the happiest time of the year. What a coup! That showed Cowell and his corporate machine a thing or two. Despite the fact that Simon Cowell gained 450,000 sales regardless and also has a stake in Sony BMG, who it just so happened, holds the rights for our new Xmas number one song. Maybe it is time for artists to start actually releasing Christmas songs at Christmas time, but maybe that concept is too wacky for people to accept. With all this talk about the X Factor, it’s got me thinking, being a Christmas blog and all. Jesus must have had the X Factor; otherwise, people wouldn’t spell it Xmas. It’s just a thought.

As hard as Christians may argue Christmas is about the birth of the original X Factor winner, for the rest of us, presents have a BIG part to play. I’m not entirely sure why they have to be put under a tree, but I’m not going to complain. When all of those presents are sitting in front of you, I’m like a child again, just a child already drinking alcohol at 10 in the morning.

The things that can be guaranteed every Christmas are alcohol, arguments and a surplus of chocolate and socks.

The presents have been opened and tidied away (carefully piled upstairs) and the house is covered in decorations and flashing lights. It’s an epileptic nightmare. Spaceman came travelling is powering through your speakers from the mono-browed purveyor of filth, De Burgh. You have the whole family together, your extended family is round, and some of their friends may have tagged along too. The house is packed and what does everyone want to do? Watch TV! We can’t miss Doctor Who or the Eastenders Christmas special. It is the only time of year when everyone gets together under the same roof, yet all across the country, all people want to do is watch the flipping TV! Thankfully my family doesn’t feel the need to waste the day in this manner anymore due to the evolution of technology and personal video recorders.

So what does a family do on Christmas day when not watching the tellybox? They turn their living rooms into the set of the Jeremy Kyle show (or Jerry Springer for any American readers). The festive period always seems to bring out the argumentative side in people. Whether it’s opposing opinions or a family member cheating at whatever game they happen to be playing, I can guarantee there will be fireworks. I suppose we always have alcohol to fall back on, but that could always make matters worse.

It’s around two o’clock and we have finished bickering for now and the alcohol has been steadily flowing for a few hours. There is an air of anticipation because we can all smell the heavenly aromas coming from the kitchen. (Our idea of heaven is obviously the turkey population’s idea of hell.) The promise of food has brought back the festive cheer. We gather around the table with plates piled full of food. But before we can commence our eating, we have to all pull our Christmas crackers. And that’s not a metaphor, because that would be just awkward. Can anyone explain how crackers are related to Christmas? After Jesus was born, did Mary and Joseph argue over this strangely shaped present from the wise men? They both wanted to play with the strange toy and in the tug of war it ripped apart with a pathetic bang and out fell a flimsy paper hat, some plastic measuring spoons and a crap joke. That’s my theory anyway.

The meal has been finished; everyone lies around in a catatonic state of shock at how much they’ve eaten and we still have enough turkey leftovers to feed sub-Saharan Africa. As we are not going to be watching television, the board games and quizzes make their ill-fated appearance. Let the drinking and arguments recommence. Merry bloody Christmas!

I love Christmas and all the baggage that comes with it, but it holds a strange place in our memories. Last Christmas seemed to be just yesterday, but next Christmas seems so far off. Despite this, the next one always comes much quicker than you anticipate. This probably has something to do with the Christmas decorations in town being put up earlier every year. I hear this year; the decorations are going up in June. Christmas seems to have a bizarre stranglehold on the passage of time. Perhaps we should have watched Doctor Who.

But despite my love of Christmas, I must disagree with the song by Wizzard. I am rather happy it’s not Christmas every day. If it was, we’d all be the size of Santa Claus, and the murder rate due to domestic arguments would undoubtedly make a steady rise. Also, we’d be as weird as that mental bloke who actually does celebrate Christmas every day who’s one more mince pie away from a coronary.

One final pet peeve about Christmas is the Political Correctness brigade not letting us call it Christmas. It is Christmas and it will always be called Christmas. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit into other religious beliefs, but I am more than happy to let other religions have their days, so leave ours alone. Let’s face it; the majority of people who celebrate Christmas are unlikely to be all that religious anyway. Also, I highly doubt people from other religions mind us calling it Christmas either. On the whole, the big thing about religion is tolerance and forgiveness. Besides, Jesus pops up in just about every religion out there (maybe not including the Jedis). It’s just that bloody PC brigade! Political correctness will have to wait until another time, but Christmas is Christmas, ginger is ginger and short people are short, not vertically challenged. If you disagree with that, go find somewhere high to jump off of. Rant over.

On that cheery thought, happy New Year!

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