I’ve had Christmas already this year. I met up with my sister and her husband, my new nephew (Gus the Poodle) and my niece (Ruby the Golden Doodle), in a cabin in the Forest of Dean. And we had a jolly nice Christmas.
Now, I don’t know what that last sentence conveys to you, but fuck me, people are having a hard time getting their heads around this extremely simple concept. I’ll grant that there’s a more traditional date that was chosen arbitrarily a few years back, but there are also other festivals that shift. No one says ‘Easter in March isn’t really Easter, is it?’
Despite which, it seems that Christmas is so effectively tied to December 25 that people absolutely cannot fathom that it could happen at any other time. To the point that they are almost, almost affronted. I’m now so fed up of explaining and justifying that I’m simply not going to bother.
Sample conversation #1
‘So did you have presents?’
‘Yes, it was Christmas.’
‘What about a tree?’
‘Yes, because it was Christmas.’
‘Look, we had presents, and decorations, and Christmas music, and a roast dinner, and we watched Die Hard! Because it was Christmas!’
Sample conversation #2
‘When did you have Christmas?’
‘So more like Thanksgiving then.’
‘No, it was Christmas.’
‘What do you mean, you had Christmas?’
‘I mean, we did all the stuff you do for Christmas. Because it was Christmas.’
‘What are you going to do at Christmas?’
‘Nothing, because I already did Christmas.’
In some respects, it’s a fascinating insight, first into how difficult people can find it to break what they seem to regard as hard-coded rules. If Christmas is one, are there loads of others that I don’t know about as well?
Secondly, the more specific questions pinpoint what defines Christmas for one’s interrogator. Sprouts are a key signifier; Die Hard is definitely up there too. A couple of people mentioned the queen’s speech, which I have never watched anyway, or midnight carol services. Which I don’t attend.
I actually was thinking about sort of doing Christmas again, and then I thought, why? I had a lovely Christmas. I don’t need two of them. I still have to get some presents, and I’m going to see the stage show of White Christmas so that seems plenty. But there’s stuff that’s just for me, like a tree or fancy bits of food, that is simply unnecessary. So I gave the money to charity instead. As the Other Christmas build up really gets going, I’m finding myself relieved at the amount of tasks I don’t have to bother with and the volume of thinking that I don’t have to do.
We’re thinking of making Forest Christmas a regular thing. It’s an appealing thought, and not only because it involves dog walking and copious amounts of champagne being drunk in a hot tub. It’s a ‘Get out of Christmas hysteria’ free card, while still allowing me to take a week off when the rest of the country does Other Christmas. Forest Christmas for the win!