I love Christmas.
This is weird as I’m not into presents, I don’t touch booze, I’m not a glutton, I don’t like the telly and I don’t do God.
When I was younger so much younger than today, getting a bottle of beer shampoo or a soap on a rope was actually exciting – and not in an ironic way. But why do I only remember the cleaning products? I think we’ll leave that one for my shrink in the new year.
I also really liked Jesus.
Midnight Mass, singing carols and praying were a way of life – not a pissed-up, nostalgia fest. I believed the whole thing – angels coming down from heav’n on a cold winter night that was so deep, trembling shepherds and their equally scared flocks of sheep washing their socks by night, the Virgin Mary wrapping LBJ in swaddling clothes and laying him in a manger after giving birth in front of lowing cattle and the most famous cuckold in 0th Century Middle Eastern literature.
On the other hand – and equally Christmassy – I’ve been known to spend every waking hour for several weeks either side of 25 December as pissed as a fart.
I’ve also experienced severe meat sweats while overdosing on TV Christmas specials, downing After Eights dunked in brandy while simultaneously farting sprout fumes and chain smoking the 200 Marlboros I got as a present – and thinking I’m having fun. So much for a typical Christmas Day in the early 1990s.
‘What’s the big deal?’ you may be asking. ‘Most of this sounds like pretty average festive behaviour, TBH!’
Nowadays, I’ve stopped boozing and smoking and I’m not arsed about parties – even political ones. I enjoy eating without the sweating. I’m not materialist. I’ve been kicked out of the Catholic Church on the grounds of apostasy and heresy. And I don’t particularly like Xmas jumpers – whether traditional or sarcastic-ironic, Mariah Carey, Christmas crackers, Santa hats, board games or annual quizzes, tinsel, smug round-robin letters, Quality St, Advocaat or even the Holidays Are Comin’ TV campaign.
So how come I’m still simply having a wonderful Christmas time?
Put simply, it’s just that – for however short a time – we’re nicer to each other. For a little while, we think about – and even try to help – people who aren’t the lucky bastards we are.
It’s pretty impossible to be unmoved by the humanitarian tragedies around the world – and Christmas makes us think about them more as charities do a great job reminding us about them. And making effective pleas for help.
These campaigns also remind us there are so many people doing good, brave, extraordinary things to make this barmy world a bit better.
The need to give a shit hits home especially hard after a year like 2016 that’s seen a concerted attempt to move the hatred and bigotry of the far right into the political mainstream. And when utter arseholes (even smellier more revolting than the usual ring pieces) have secured some pretty powerful jobs.
So Christmas is a much-needed kick up the arse to give something to people I will never meet in countries I will never visit who face horrors I could never imagine. Or to people I pass on the street every day who also lead lives of quiet torture.
It’s a reminder to stop worrying about the insignificant bullshit that tends to clog our brains and to work out what’s actually important.
So thank you to everyone who’s reminded me to stop and think. Thank you to everyone who is trying in trying times.
You’re my true Christmas heroes. And you’re why I still love Christmas.
Oh and the Christmas jokes