So this week, as it’s Christmas, here is a festive related post and my last of 2015, as I am taking a few weeks off. I came across this song on the radio today about a Vancouver Christmas, which I found quite funny and the inspiration for this post.
I’m not the greatest fan of Christmas, I’m not religious and the commercial capitalism of it all drives me crazy. In my younger years, I worked in retail over the period and it was frantic, stressful and truly miserable. I remember one year I started work on the 23rd December [probably one of the busiest shopping days of the year] at 5am in a supermarket and struggled to find a parking space, as customers were already in the store and shopping like it was the onset of the apocalypse. Another year where I worked in an office in Lincoln, I moaned and groaned about it all and I was nicknames the Grinch and when I came back from Lunch one day, found that my desk had been decorated to get me into the spirit of it! Don’t get me wrong, I like food, drink and presents as much as the next person, and watching It’s a Wonderful Life is always a pleasure. I also like to receive and give gifts, but on the whole, I find that the whole thing a little bit exhausting.
As a child, I really enjoyed the whole Santa/ Father Christmas charade. There is an old home video somewhere of me jumping around screaming ‘it’s a tele’ when at the age of nine or ten I had opened a big cardboard box with a small television in it, it felt like magic! But a year later I felt devastated when I found out he wasn’t real. I came across a board game [Subbuteo] that was on my Christmas list at the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe, and when I later took it out from under the tree on Christmas Day and unwrapped the same game, I put two and two together and that was it. As a teenage I enjoyed going to the pub with friends on Christmas Eve, and then staggering out of bed at midday and sitting down to a big turkey dinner and getting back on the beer and drinking through till the New Year. However, as the years went by I grew more and more uncomfortable seeing my mother come close to a meltdown each year, as she felt she HAD TO do everything perfect, decorations, tree, shopping, presents, chocolates, drink, turkey etc. I also got to feeling guilty that I could more or less sit there, whilst I and other family members, guests etc. would come and be fed and watered. Going out for the all-important Christmas dinner, is one way to avoid all this, but this just puts the stress and strain onto someone else, mostly underpaid service sector workers. The hassle of getting the right presents, especially when funds have been tight, or fighting through warm, over crowded shopping malls has also made me come close to giving up on humanity!
That’s why I find being away from Christmas this year so nice and a bit of an escape as it’s something different to the norm and I can escape lots of the usual things. The one big difference I’ve discovered being in Canada is the lack of alcohol related Christmas festivities. The departmental Christmas ‘doo’, was more of a buffet lunch at the campus restaurant for an hour, and then everyone went back to work. No booze was consumed. I repeat, no booze! When explaining to those at my table that in the UK a Christmas ‘doo’ usually consisted of a bit of food, hours of drinking and maybe a bit of dancing over the course of an afternoon, I was met with laughter, shock and surprise. I told my partner about this and she also laughed, saying that her works ‘doo’ was also a ‘dry’ event. Pubs also close early on Christmas eve and like it is in Australia [the site of my other non-UK Christmas in 2005] it is an evening to be spent with family. So, maybe missing a UK Christmas is more than a nice change, it’s actually good for my health!
I plan on spending the rest of today writing and editing chapters for my forthcoming book on the role of gender in research relationships. If I had my way, I’d probably do this tomorrow as well, and spend the rest of the day watching Bruce Springsteen concerts on YouTube and escape the whole thing. But even here I can’t escape it entirely and tomorrow I’ll spent it with my partner’s family and also through the technological wonder that is SKYPE, speak to my own family. So whilst I won’t as Tim Minchin excellently puts it, be drinking white wine in the sun this Christmas, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q , I will do my best to relax and put a brave face on it, it is Christmas after all
See you in 2016!