It’s not Christmas, perhaps it is Crossmas or Eksmas. And to be fair, I think it will serve me well to work with Eksmas for defining this end of year experience, alongside the traditional Christmas for comparison.
Is for me invariably one of the worst times of the year. The period leading up to it has ended, leaving most people (or just me?) sick of decorations, tunes, and festive compulsory cheer, the proceedings fail to deliver, the end of the year is coming up with its forceful pondering on the state of your life and annoying and mediocre firework displays causing noise, and then perhaps the worst part: the January-March season, with equally horrible darkness and cold weather as the previous three months, but lacking their suspense.
Having firmly set the depressing tone, I will now proceed to be a fastidious grinch and elaborate on these points.
- The season’s madness. Starting November, especially if you live somewhere large enough to have the commercial potential, shops get decorated with glittery wonders, baubles, tinsel and who knows what else. It really only looks good if it’s been planned by an interior decorator and funded from corporate accounts. If you try buying the stuff and doing your own decoration, you are doomed to fail. Even if it looks good, it won’t look as good as in store. There is the overload factor. If you have two months to enjoy the beauty, it won’t be that amazing really by the time 25th December hits. Then there is the weather factor. Not all parts of the northern hemisphere enjoy proper cold weather and December snows. If it’s 10 degrees Celcius and raining, the magic of the sparkle is really just bloody insulting. You only need wear gloves to stop the mulled wine burning your hands. And then there’s the carols. If they weren’t supported by their festive purpose I think people would hate them as much as they hate Abba songs. They’re nice to listen to, but not more than a few times. And I quite like some Abba songs.
- Unsatisfactory proceedings. This is the main thing that annoys me. You want Christmas, but get Eksmas. I believe most would ascribe the value of Christmas to be spending time with loved ones (family, friends). Some also value it for its religious significance. These are both fine reasons, but unfortunately people just mess things up. This one day of the year should be a celebration, the cherry on the cake for a year spent building and enjoying meaningful human relantionships. It is not meant to be a substitute for these things. Slaving away to fulfil whatever requirements and preparations the ritual in your part of the world requires and then being forced to socialise with relatives – this flavour of the issue mostly applies to families – whom you don’t get along well with is a recipe for disaster. Going through the motions on a background of aggravated fatigue is just insult and injury in one convenient package. Eksmas is this celebration of empty ritual and maintaining appearance. Conversely, if you happen to have people you care about, but can’t spend Christmas with them, all is not lost! You might be surprised to find that people have not forgotten you. Christmas is like meeting an old friend for a half-hour chat once a year. You are still best friends, and have a lot to say.
- Future plans. Once Christmas or Eksmas have passed, you have the New Year to look forward to. Traditionally people celebrated the changing of season, so I guess there is nothing wrong in finding reason to celebrate in changing calendar year. If you like to party New Year’s Eve is a great opportunity to change the cosiness of the table with the glamour of the ball room (one can dream). But don’t try to sort out your life plans for the next year in one day. If you didn’t do this over the course of the past year, forcing yourself to do it in one day is probably not a productive exercise. On a different note, I don’t get what is up with the fireworks? First of all the ones for the public should be banned. If it’s got enough power to pop or fly it shouldn’t be handled by children (or adults) who don’t know any better. Pyrotechnics should be kept for professionals. And on this point, can’t someone come up with some way of making them more quiet? They scare pets and are just a pain if you’re not celebrating and can’t even see anything from your window.
- The worst part: the bulk of the winter season. Holidays are gone, it’s still dark, cold or miserable outside, depending on where you live, and there’s nothing to look forward to.
It seems a bit too much that I’ve managed to complain about half the calendar year under the umbrella of one holiday, but that’s the risk you run when you mark living with compulsory milestones. It’s a bit of all or nothing.
It’s not all doom and gloom
I started this article a few weeks back planning to make it an indictment on people’s foolishness in complying to organised celebration. It isn’t so much an accusation anymore, but a warning. I’ve mellowed, people have remembered me, and that made me happy. Christmas day is not as bad as the run-up to it. If you don’t plan too much, if you keep expectations reasonable, there is no pressure. You might actually enjoy the day, even if you just light up some tea lights and sprinkle some biscuit munching onto your daily routine.
There is one cliché I am inclined to agree with now. It’s the small things that matter. Merry Christmas, or whatever else you might be celebrating!