Another Crimbo blogpost
I’ve said to myself I’m still due a fantastic Christmas, where somethings really nice happen to the extent that they transform my immediate and medium term future while being damn good fun at the time. So yes, I’m still waiting.
The problem I face is that as a festival, it is always something that will come with loaded connotations. The joys of a childhood at church you see – the same church that bundles of fun like this chap belong to. Such people are always on dangerous territory when making references to totalitarian and oppressive regimes of the 20th century given the history of concordats with Italy, Germany and Spain in particular. Perhaps they’ve given up on world peace as an achievable objective. As a child, clerical Christmas messages were all about world peace and poverty alleviation. What’s changed?
So…what do you do with someone who has decided over a decade ago that he:
- …did not subscribe to the church’s interpretation of ‘the first Christmas’
- …had come to despise the commercialisation of Christmas
- …was of the view that neither myself nor those around me could afford the above
- … not particularly partial to traditional Christmas roasts
- …decided as far as music and television is concerned, it was same stuff, different year?
I’ve got a whole TWO DAYS where there are no coffee shops open and I’m stuck indoors! Well…OK, not quite. Apparently we’re OK to do online shopping if we like.
So…what happened – or is happening – this time around?
I’ve got a baby niece around this time. For the purposes of all things online I refer to her as “Lozzles”. (Nothing to do with her real name). Part of today’s challenge was finding a suitable present for a newborn baby. Yeah – exactly.
I didn’t really do that much that was Christmassy this month that involved anything more than a passive wallflower really. Remember that between 2002-09 I was going to Christmas balls and other events annually – in some years to more than one ball in one season. This year, going along to my primary school’s infants’ Christmas play and Christmas fair was about as festive as it got. The script was superb – as were the children. The performance asked the question: What is the meaning of Christmas. “Why did Mary and Joseph end up in a stable?” “It was all that was available on Lastminute.com!” It’s funnier when said by six year olds. They dressed up just as well as my generation did a quarter of a century before. (How’s that to make you feel old?!?) but they had lots of hand and body movements the like that would have got my generation a stern telling off from the old school head teacher – who was so old school there were photographs of her teaching at the same school while the Second World War was going on. Yeah – I began my education with that generation and less than a quarter of a century later was using social and digital media in my own teacher training.
What happened last year and what’s different this time around?
I’m not in cold, rainy Bristol for a start. It was excruciating at times so I tried to spend as much as possible on Twitter huddled by a radiator. This year I can hide away in my room. Last year was also my first Christmas on social media. My guess is that more and more of you will be using social media as a refuge from the conversations that you don’t want to have with relatives that sometimes you wish you weren’t related to.
Things are slightly different this year, not just with little Lozzles. I’m on slightly more secure ground work-and-finance-wise. The opposite is true health-wise. A strange paradox of not being able to work full-time because of the long term impact of my mental health crisis of April 2012. I need a lot more sleep and ‘recovery time’ than before, and it is likely to be like this for a few more years to come going by what others have been through similar have said.
As with last year, I’ve not done nor am planning anything huge event-wise. I went to a couple of nice gatherings in London – I love being in places where I’m familiar with lots of people. It puts me at ease far more than being in a trendy nightclub with loud music and expensive drinks prices.
There’s still a sense that what I’m doing is the start of a very long journey – one where I’m not really sure what or where the ending will be. If I compare this year to last year, I’ve got more responsibilities to more people and institutions because of the work I now do – paid and voluntary. Subconsciously that was part of the ‘plan’ given the final paragraph of The Ghosts of Christmas Future.
New music – or different arrangements of old numbers?
I’m often on the lookout for such things. As far as Christmas songs are concerned, I’ve moaned about same stuff different year. Looking at the charts, I wonder which is the most repeatedly purchased song of them all? You know, the compilations that have all the songs on that you listened to ten years ago and beyond? Can’t someone write some new ones please? I quite like this one as a relative newbie – not just because it makes a nice jive. (At the other end you get awful arrangements such as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer as a cha-cha – hopefully not coming to a lite-entertainment show near you).
Message for Christmas?
“Let’s achieve world peace and vanquish global poverty” for a start. Well, if the institutions are going to miss out on this one somebody’s got to fill the void!
Actually, there’s something about ‘consent’ and ‘tradition’ in a much wider sense around Christmas. Lots of people have already tweeted about things they don’t want to do, people they don’t want to spend time with and the like. So why do it? ‘It’s tradition, that’s why!’ is often a response. But why keep a tradition going if you really do not like it? Especially one where it gets to the stage where it violates some of your core values? (For example having to put up with the bigoted relative). Why not invent your own new traditions instead? One thing we do is to have a Chinese meal or takeaway on Christmas Eve. I don’t really know at what point it became a family ‘tradition’ but it was one that was established after I was born.
So for this one…dare to be different.