I have a bit (ha!) of a reputation for being less than cheery about the holiday season. Part of this, obviously, is because I feel a bit sorry for myself here at the orphanarium for not having a giant family celebration in that traditional way. I hate shopping, malls, and (almost) anything to do with the gross commercialisation of the season. Also, my (usually fairly lovely) staff forget that, even though my family is tiny and fractured, I still end up having to work Christmas Eve, grouchily, because I have plans that day: Chinese food and present opening with my brothers. Since our mum died, it’s tradition. It may not be Réveillon, but it’s all we’ve got.
(Last year, I had to leave work so late that we couldn’t find Chinese food. Ian made a stir-fry instead, which was good too. But this year, I want my damned General Tao’s, okay?)
I’m also very snarky and dry. I have absolutely no tolerance for a lot of Christmas music, particularly ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ (nothing makes the bile rise quicker) and anything involving autotune. This year, at the cinematorium, the Christmas music is Vince Guaraldi, the Rat Pack, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Reverend Horton Heat. I can handle that. I cannot deal with The Chipmunks or Bieber or even “Do They Even Know It’s Christmas?”
(That last point might be controversial, but y’know what? A lot of the suffering people that you multi-millionaires were singing about might not know about Christmas, but, more likely, PROBABLY DON’T CARE BECAUSE THEY HAVE MORE PRESSING CONCERNS LIKE NOT DYING.)
Anyway, there are some things I do like about the holiday season, though:
- Baking. I bake a lot of presents because I like to bake, think I’m reasonably good at it, and because of the aforementioned hatred of shopping. A lot of people don’t bake anymore either, so I think it’s appreciated by those folks that I do. My friend R’s mother expects a ginger cake as a present and I’m super glad to bake one for her every year instead having a nervous breakdown at Winner’s while trying to find some knick-knack she’ll possibly/probably hate.
- Listening to ‘The Santa Diaries’ and ‘Holidays on Ice’. David Sedaris reminds me that crises can be hilarious, but that I don’t really miss them. Oh, and that, really, things could be far worse.
- Watching ‘less traditional’ Christmas movies. Apparently, Die Hard was voted the best holiday movie by Forbes (how weird). I concur. We watched it last year. I also like The Thin Man (this year’s selection, I think) and The Ref (which I haven’t seen in about ten years, unfortunately).
- Watching (some) traditional Christmas movies/TV specials. Despite my low schmaltz tolerance, I love pretty much any incarnation of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Even Mickey’s. Especially Alastair Sim’s, Blackadder, and the Muppets, though. I even like ‘Olive the Other Reindeer’. (I will not, owing to childhood emotional scars/abandonment issues, entertain the idea of watching ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, nor ‘Frosty the Snowman’, on television, though. (See also Jeremy/Colargol and Paddington Bear.))
- Giving/receiving Grandma presents. When one is an old, orphaned spinster, eventually one doesn’t get the ‘usual’ presents (stocking and otherwise) that you came to expect every year, like pyjamas, Lifesaver Storybooks, and packages of AA batteries. I make a point of buying my brothers socks, lip balm, and tiny bottles of shampoo because I love to and because it wouldn’t be Christmas without them somehow. I bought my friend Richard a scarf last year. A scarf! What am, 90? I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that someone buys me slippers this year. (I don’t make a Christmas list, because I think it’s kinda childish and greedy and I’d rather people buy gifts they thought of themselves, but slippers are the exception to the ‘I don’t want anything’ mantra I usually provide people with when they ask what I want.)
So see? I’m not all doom and gloom this time of year. My heart is not quite as black as one might think. I don’t even mind going to church much, despite that whole agnostic thing I have going on. Christmas isn’t a Giant Event in my life like it once was, but it’s not a misery either.
And, as always, if all else fails, there’s always wine.