I like Christmas grumblers. They’re a great yuletide tradition, like phoning the Samaritans, getting glassed in the face, waking in your own puke and having a pointless, fractious row with the woman you realize that you stopped loving a long time ago.
On the face of it, they have a good point too. How many people have you seen over the last week or two who actually look happy? And when you ask acquaintances if they had a good Christmas, I’ll lay money that you’ll get nothing more than a shrug and “s’alright.” And then you know not to ask in detail.
However, grumblers miss the fundamental problem. Christmas, however commercialized or not, does nothing more than provide information. The fact that you have to buy gifts for people you don’t much like but are stuck with, for instance, quantifies for you exactly how many such people there are in your life. And all those things you’ve got to be doing when you’d really rather just do nothing much of anything. And the Christmas party at a job you don’t like much with people you couldn’t care less about. And your family. And her family. Wretched grotesques, the lot of them. Yes, all kinds of information there.
The thing about Christmas is that if you’ve made a mess of your life, partial or total, you get to find out in copious and exact detail the nature of that mess – the who’s, the why’s and the wherefore’s. It’s the rest of the year coming home to roost, and all the other years too.
There’s nothing much to be done. I can only lead by example. There’s a bottle of Jameson’s at my left hand, a bottle of Chivas at my right. In front of me is a big pile of uncracked, pristine books.
People, it’s time to hunker down.