Oh great! It’s that time of year again! Well, if you’d just landed from the planet Retail, you’d have believed that it’s been that time of year since around the end of September. I’m talking about Christmas...
Over the years, I’ve tried so hard to like Christmas, to get caught up in the ‘Good Will to All Men’ shtick , but I have to confess that, after several gazillion years on this planet, it’s defeated me.
I grew up in a family that was not only more religious than the Pope but which also made church mice look like lottery winners – not a good combination for a child hoping for great things from Santa. Even though that wasn’t a time for the ludicrous materialism that kids now enjoy, my friends always seemed to come back to school in January telling tales of groaning stockings and bulging pillow cases at the end of their beds on Christmas morning. I would usually quickly invent some mega-toy then, caught up in my deceitful web, have to devise a convincing lie as to its whereabouts when they came home to play after school. They rapidly became suspicious of the-dog-ate-it/my-brother-broke-it etc.
As an adult, more so as a married adult, I have found that Yuletide celebrations have been laid at my door for years on end. I went through a phase of trying very hard to effect the perfect Christmas for everyone – lavishing carefully chosen gifts on a largely ungrateful family; stressing myself to the nth degree to produce a gourmet meal while the children whinged about not liking the stuffing/Christmas Pudding/Bread sauce, you name it; my mother whinged about the children’s manners; my brother routinely arrived 2 hours late without apology or explanation, thus fecking up my meal planning and the Shah played the Hindu card, claiming (conveniently) not to understand any of the fuss.
At the risk of blowing my own brass instrument, I would also like to add that I am a genius shopper for Christmas presents. I run lists all year. Stand near me from January to October and declare an interest in an item and you will most likely find it in your stocking come December. I have an elephantine memory for wish lists; so much so that people have been known to cry “gosh! I’d forgotten I ever wanted one of those”....come to think about it, maybe that’s not such a good thing and I could have saved myself £££ over the years, had I let sleeping dogs lie on that front.
The Shah, however, as I hope he would be the first to admit, is shite at present-buying. Be it Christmas, Birthdays or Barmitzvahs, do not look to him for any kind of inspirational gift-giving. Allow me to elucidate. There was the famous time that he claimed my birthday presents had failed to arrive because Amazon had let him down. Now, I have dealt with Amazon for donkey’s years and it has never once let me down. Also, in another life, I briefly worked for Brian McBride, now the MD of Amazon UK and he was a really good bloke and I am quite sure that he is down in the depot, wielding a tape gun with the rest of them if there is the slightest likelihood of a delay in my deliveries, so I was a little suspicious to put it mildly, especially given the Shah’s atrocious track record in this department. When the parcel finally arrived, I could see from the receipt (the Shah has never quite got the hang of the gift receipt idea) that it had actually been ordered ON my birthday....ahem.
Then there was the Christmas that we foolishly invited some family members to share our day. I was full in the mania of attempting to create the perfect Christmas, especially as the children were quite small at that point, and had fashioned a table centrepiece from some wood, holly, candles, ribbons – all the usual crap. Rellies arrived. “Oh we don't need that!” they cried, spotting my lovingly-crafted if slightly wonky decor. “We’ve brought this!” and they produced a massive square candle with about 73 wicks which they plonked on the table, my creation having been peremptorily sidelined. I wanted to cry.
That was the year that the Shah really excelled himself with the Santa act. For some reason (and he has never been able to explain exactly why) he decided that a good, nay a GREAT, Christmas present for me would be a lime green afro wig like this….
and a set of witchy false nails, attached to witchy false fingers, like this….
I seem to remember (but only hazily) that I drank my way through that Christmas until all my woes took on a lovely, rosy glow.
Then there was the Christmas that we bought the children a trampoline. I insisted that the Shah (unwillingly accompanied by my brother) set the thing up in the garden at around midnight on Christmas Eve, fondly imagining the delighted faces of our offspring the following morning. There were a few hurdles to over come:-
· It was about -5ºC
· It was sleeting like a bastard
· The Shah was pissed
· My brother was pissed off
· It was dark and the torch batteries were low
Naturally, being a man and being the Shah, the Shah didn’t bother with a minor consideration like reading the feckin’ instructions. So he and my bro started attaching the springs to the frame and the springy bit. Because they were doing it all wrong, the tension became harder and harder as they went round. Eventually, the inevitable happened and the Shah managed to rip one of his fingers wide open with a sharp metal hook. Oh fab. There was me, half cut also, trying desperately to steri-strip this finger which was bleeding like a stuck pig. Meanwhile, the Shah was simultaneously trying to hold his hand up in the air to reduce the bleeding and hold his head between his knees as he was feeling faint.
Come the morning, the children were lukewarm in their appreciation. It turned out they had heard the commotion and the incessant swearing and had got up out of bed to witness their lovely “surprise” being fecked up by the Shah and their uncle. Oh goody. Another successful Christmastide. So, it’s fair to say that I don’t approach Christmas with very high expectations.
I’m a bit behind this year and did my first Amazon order only a couple of days ago. It won’t be delivered until mid-December. I warned the Shah of same, knowing full well that he hasn’t given Christmas a single thought as yet. “Uh, what?” was all he had to say.
I don't hold out all that much hope for this year either.