You don’t need me to tell you that it’s that time of the year again, folks; Christmas is coming and the geese are starting to get nervous. It’s time to write those Christmas cards to the people you haven’t seen for years but who ritually keep sending them to you. It made me remember that I haven’t given our address to most of our friends so here it is: Sesmarias Country Club Lote 4, Carvoeiro LGA, 8400-561 Lagoa Algarve, Portugal.
Good. That’s out of the way. Now to today’s rant. I hate Christmas. I always have because I think it is a time for children and without them it’s just an excuse for a festival of excess; spend too much money, eat too much, drink too much, try to feel jolly and be forced to have a good time. Ho ho ho. Actually, I’m not averse to having a good time, it’s just that when the event is fixed on the calendar, I feel that some of the spontantaity is lost. And what is it with all these bloody presents? I don´t want anything – well, except maybe Season Three of Lark Rise to Candleford and I can order that myself from Amazon.
Joy to the world! Peace and goodwill to all men. Nice idea but the world is just as bad after Christmas as before it and just gets worse. The whole of Christmas is fuelled by ritual and an unholy commercialism that sticks in my throat. I heave a heavy sigh when I see the first Christmas decorations go up in the shops. October, I think it was, and I’ve been in a seasonal depression ever since. I should put up a few decorations myself but can never be bothered. Maybe a token bit of tinsel and a sprig of mistletoe. A mince pie or two. Oh, bugger it. What’s the point? You only have to take them down again and more than two mince pies makes me sick.
As everyone knows, Christmas was invented by Charles Dickens, Coca-Cola and Bing Crosby. Before Dickens, Christmas was a midwinter festival, the original Roman Saturnalia which had been cleverly hijacked by the early Christians. Father Christmas was originally the German Weihnachtsmann and was green; I think Prince Albert invited him to England and introduced him the Dickens, thus was born A Christmas Carol. Coca-Cola, of course, invented the red-cloaked Father Christmas who comes down chimneys. For God’s sake, where did they get that ludicrous idea from? I won’t go into the physical problems or the impossibility of visiting every good child in the world in a few hours. At least children learn about making others believe that they believe all that crap because they get presents by doing so. That’s a useful life lesson, I suppose; accept such a blatant untruth in the interests of personal gain. He comes in a bloody flying sleigh as well…dragged along by suicidal reindeer, one with a red nose. No wings. It´s a good job no one gets to capture the real Santa because he would probably be sectioned and put in the loony bin.
And where did the idea of cutting down a perfectly healthy tree, dragging it into the house and watching it die come from? Another German ritual brought to England by Prince Albert (or Albrecht; his real name). I suppose Queen Victoria might have been amused but then she didn’t have to clean up the needles. Bing Crosby is responsible for the rest, that sugary confection of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and all that shit. But I guess it all helps to sell stuff and that’s what it’s all about.
The only bright glimer is the chance to listen again to some great Christmas music. The nativity parts of Handel´s Messiah are wonderful but, for me, the best is Bach´s Christmas oratorio, a collection of four seasonal oratorios that say more than all the jingle bells and winter wonderlands.
In Catholic Portugal, Christmas is not a great thing; the modern Christmas is a northern European invention – back to the midwinter festival, but there’s no midwinter here; the bougainvilleas are still in bloom, we never get frost, let alone snow. As I write, it’s 20 degrees outside and sunny. Nevertheless, we will still put up the wreath on the door daring the elements with ‘Let it snow!’
Then there’s that dreadful dead period between Christmas and new year. I hate that as well. What is there to do except watch repeats on the telly, watching other people having a good time, and getting pissed. Well, there are other alternatives. Writing for one; I’ll be doing the rewrite of Flight Into Darkness after a long furlough. Should keep me off the wine for a while, at least.
Then bloody New Year. Invented by the Scots as an excuse to drink more whisky. Say no more. Normally, there is a 15 minute firwork display from Portimão but this year local government austerity has reduced it to one minute. True. Don’t blink.
Sigh. I wish I could take a hibernation pill that sends me to sleep on the 24th December and lets me wake up on the 1st of January. Now, that would be a nice Christmas present.