I had an unexpected call from an ex-boyfriend last night. I picked up unaware that it was him calling, having lost all my numbers from my phone recently and was surprised to hear from him presuming, after such an extended absence, that he had either died, married or moved to Tahiti.
We chatted for a while about work, life and our plans for Christmas. After a recent break up he plans to spend the ‘big’ day with his parents up in Birmingham (and you thought working in a soup kitchen in Kings Cross was a depressing prospect). He was clearly glum about his predicament. My advice was to get totally bladdered on Christmas Eve, sleep his way through Christmas Day, have a cold turkey sandwich for breakfast on Boxing Day and be back in London by lunchtime, or to simply not go.
After wishing each other the very best for the season and putting the phone down I sat and pondered the conversation for a moment. The phone call was unexpected, however the timing not so. Why is it that even the most intelligent and grounded of people fall into a pit of despair and loneliness at Christmas time? It’s a day, we’re adults, get over it!
I have mixed feelings around Christmas time. In more recent years I have come to appreciate it a little more, given that I have a small child running around covered in chocolate but generally, truth be told, I couldn’t give a duck’s arse when it comes to the season of goodwill. Understand I don’t hate Christmas; I just couldn’t care less about it.
Similarly being single is not something that keeps me awake at night at this time of year, despite being relentlessly reminded about my state of singledom by nauseating John Lewis adverts (yes that one, so the kid gives his parents a Christmas present, big deal), Nigella Lawson performing fellatio on a wooden spoon covered in icing sugar and Michael Buble just being alive.
Do you want to know a secret? You’re no good to the high street warm and fuzzy, they want you lonely, questioning your relationships and re-mortgaging your house! Them’s be the buyers, my friends, them’s be the buyers.
On top of which (and maybe it is the subliminal cheesemonger waves penetrating our beings through the Christmas overkill around us) why does this time of year turn everyone so smug and naff? An ‘ideal Christmas’ question in a woman’s magazine recently led to deranged answers such as -
Myself, Julie Andrews, Colin Firth and Stephen Fry lying by a log fire watching Hepburn films with champagne.
Involves my boyfriend a pile of pigs in blankets, Charades, Downton on the sofa and Nigella’s Xmas cocktails:
For my dream Christmas I don’t want much … world peace – let 2012 be the year of no war or fighting, oh and an engagement ring from my boyfriend please!
Excuse me while I sick up my mince pie … World peace? Julie Andrews? Downton Abbey? Please! Nothing like a bit of tinsel to bring out the most putrid of couples.
My dream Christmas would be a good fuck and a Chinese takeaway, but there you go, horses for courses I suppose.
If I sound bitter and sceptical that’s probably because I am. When I see an advert on daytime TV (watched for research purposes only you understand) offering Christmas loan packages it makes me want to weep into my brandy butter and become a Muslim.
My advice is to embrace being alone and chill the fuck out. It’s one day of the year when you can take the time to do what the hell you want. You don’t have to cook, you don’t have to sing and you don’t have to laugh at shit jokes from shit crackers. You can wake up late, walk to a nice pub with a roaring fire (with a battered up copy of A Christmas Carol if you really must get into the spirit of things) and get slowly pissed on 2 litres of mulled wine, safe in the knowledge that this is a luxury few can indulge in and that one day soon you too will be spending £370 pounds on one meal, be assaulted in M&S on Christmas Eve over the last of the bread pudding, wake up at 6am to start cooking, argue over shit TV and spend 4 hours clearing up while everybody else settles down to the 6th repeat of Only Fools and Horses.
Now wake up and get real! Go to Thailand! Run naked down Oxford Street! Stay in a luxury boutique in the Scottish highlands with nothing but a bottle of champagne and a vibrator to keep you company! Do anything but sit there feeling sorry for yourself because you’re ‘all alone’ at Christmas.
Life is too short to cry into your eggnog. Take my advice and lower your expectations. If you expect a scene out of Meet me in St Louis you’ll come out disappointed. Set your sights on a couple of spare ribs and a good seeing to during the Queen’s speech and believe me, you’ll have the best Christmas you’ve had in years. I ain’t no wise man but I know this much; there’s more to life than turkey.