Christmas is on its way then. Less than two weeks to go in fact. Now, historically speaking, I'd normally be starting to feel pretty darned festive by now. I'd be writing cards, decorating stuff and being just generally chirpy and annoying.
This year though? I'm not feeling it. Christmas is coming, and I'm sat here thinking "does it have to?" I'm dreading it. If anything, it seems like a bloody chore to me. The presents, the running around seeing all the various family members and friends, the delicate balancing act of getting drunk enough to not care but not so drunk that my family disown me... It all seems like so much effort to go to. I've become Ebenezer Scrooge at the age of twenty-eight.
And I find myself thinking, how did this happen? When exactly did I go from loving Christmas to wanting it to just go away? I've come up with several possible answers.
1) It's just something which happens as you get older. When you're a child, Christmas really is a magical time (or it's supposed to be). You just accept the idea that there's a magical man in the the North Pole who makes toys with the elves and flies around the world once a year in his sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. It makes perfect sense! Plus, presents! Fuck, presents are the best thing ever when you're a child. Don't get me wrong, presents stay pretty cool as an adult, but when you're a child they're something else. New stuff! Yes! I was bored of my old stuff! Whoo!
But as you get older, the magic starts to go away. You can watch Miracle On 34th Street as many times as you like, it doesn't make it real. Santa's a fiction, and a pretty ludicrous one at that. How were we ever gullible enough to fall for it? And once that part's gone, it really all starts to fade. Christmas becomes less about magic, and more about spending time with your friends and family. Which sounds nice, doesn't it?
Only it doesn't, because we've all got those family members and friends who only end up annoying us after we've spent a small amount of time with them, and that ain't changing just because it's Christmas. If anything, Christmas leads to more arguments over pointles shit and people getting your back up over nothing. And of course, you're already drunk from all the Christmas liquers you've imbibed, which just serves to make you easier to anger, but less able to argue your point with anything resembling eloquence, which only annoys you further because you're not getting your side across properly. Basically, you're fucked.
So, yeah. Christmas just gets worse as you get older.
Only it doesn't. That's total bullshit. All of it. There's this idea that we all turn into Scrooge at Christmas when we get older, but the truth of it is completely different. Christmas is actually an opportunity for all of us to feel like we are children again. The bright colours, the games, the ludicrous amounts of sugar we consume... Throw in the aforementioned liquers, and you've got yourself an awesome party. If anything, as a grown up you have the capacity to enjoy Christmas even more than you did as a child. You can still believe in the magic if you want. Hell, my mum makes us watch Miracle On 34th Street every year, and every year it gets me at the end. It's a wonderful, feel good movie. As an adult, you can enjoy the time on a lot more levels than you could as a child. And as for that annoying family member or friend? You won't give a shit, because if they do start piss you off, then you'll hopefully have no shortage of other people you can go and talk to. T'is the season of goodwill, after all.
So no. My humbug feelings aren't down to my getting older. Besides, I know people three times my age who still fucking love Christmas. Can't get enough of it. Between you and me, I think they may have a Christmas problem.
2) I'm turning into my dad. Maybe this should be point 1.5, 'cos it's basically the same as the point above, just a little more specific. As a child, I was always under the impression that Dad didn't like Christmas. I mean, he hated the Christmas tree. When he was putting it up in the living room was the only time of year I'd ever hear my father swear. Even this year, when I was on the phone to Dad a few days ago, he asked if I was feeling festive yet. "No, I'm feeling quite humbug actually." was the response. My dad called me a good boy. But ya know what? It's all a put on. My dad loves Christmas. Remember my point about Christmas being an excuse for people to act like children again? It's more true of my dad than anyone else.
So this whole "humbug" thing I've got going on can't be inherited from my dad, because with him, it's not real.
3) Ah, yes. Here we go. My last three Christmases have sucked. Like, really, really sucked. Three years ago, my godson very kindly gave me the gift of the Norovirus. It hit me on Christmas Eve. Badly. I spent a large portion of the day throwing up and lying in bed feeling utterly awful. While the worst of it passed pretty quickly, and by Christmas Day itself I was recovering, I didn't feel right for a good few weeks afterwards. My appetite was low, I couldn't really eat much in the way of sugary treats, and drinking was right out. Made for a pretty lousy new year as well, if I'm honest. Everyone was drinking, and I had to stay sober then go to bed early 'cos I had work in the morning. Amazing.
The year after that, I'll be honest, there wasn't any particular event which brought me down. I think I was just in a weird headspace, for reasons I can't remember, and I didn't particularly enjoy Christmas. New Year was also pretty lousy. Just one of those things, I guess.
But last year... Oh, boy, did that suck. Just before Christmas, I broke up with my girlfriend. Now, there's been a lot said about the events just prior to and since the break up, a lot of it by me, on the internet, while drunk. Suffice to say, I don't really feel like going into it again right now, but it left me in a bad way. Throw in having to work twelve hour night shifts on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, shifts which were busier than any night shifts I'd ever worked before, and I was pretty fed up. My good friend Tim did his best to cheer me up by coming to stay, just so I'd have some company when I wasn't in work, but I was far from my best. It wasn't helped by the fact that on Christmas morning, my sister, Charlotte, got engaged. Now, I love my sister, and I love her fiance, and I was really happy for them. But it meant that when I did finally go back to Surrey to visit the family, all everyone was talking about was weddings, marriage and happy couples. Pretty much the last things I wanted to talk about. Charlotte, and bless her for this, did try and deflect the conversation whenever she could, and even apologised to me at one point for how much engagement talk I was having to put up with, but it got to me.
New years... Actually, that was okay. I got very drunk indeed. Two day hangover drunk. My memory gets a bit fuzzy, if I'm honest, but I think I had fun...
So, there's the three options. Yeah, it's probably option three. A trilogy of disappointing Christmases has left me, at best, amibvolent towards the season, as I wait to see what horrible fate befalls me this time around. It's stupid, I know, but it's there. It's almost become routine for me that Christmas be lame. Which, I guess, is the cause of my humbug this time around.
Maybe it'll clear. You never know, Christmas morning could roll around and I'll be the most festive person this side of a visit from three ghosts. If I can have a good Christmas or two, then maybe that sense of childish excitement about the season will return as well. I kind of hope so.
But for now, let me have my humbug.