I love Christmas and I look forward to it every year. I love the tinsel, the twinkling light, the carols, the decorations and people wishing each other ‘Merry Christmas’.
What I don’t love is the frenetic pace that builds as festivities are crammed in. For some reason the first week of December seems to be the trigger for people you’ve barely spoken to all year to suddenly say “We MUST catch up before Christmas!”
And so sparks a frenzied round of diary synchronisation, to find an hour to squeeze in that isn’t all ready taken up by office Christmas parties, end of year school concerts and drinks with everybody else who also thinks “we MUST catch up before Christmas!”
Why must we? If you didn’t want to see me in October why do you want to see me before Christmas? The world isn’t ending and I’ll still be the same person on the 28th December or even, God forbid, the 5th January. In fact I’ll be even better company then because I won’t be at work and I will be very, very relaxed from a warm, sunny Christmas.
I love Christmas in Australia; sipping champagne on a balmy night, bare arms, shoes off and wriggling my toes in the cool grass. It’s a time of barbeques on the beach and backyard cricket. I’ve had Christmas in the northern hemisphere before and it just seemed wrong. Snow on the ground, hunched over with the cold. Sure it was nice to have a glass of piping hot mulled wine and a steaming roast, but I still longed for warm days and cold champagne cocktails (my favourite is lemon gelato blended with vodka and charged with bubbles. Bliss!)
Christmas for us means we’ve made it out of the long winter months and it’s time to celebrate. But why does it have to involve so much rushing about? You have to have a brave and hardy soul to enter the supermarket in the last week of December. I bet Milton had in mind a night in Woolworths on 24th December when he came up with Pandemonium. Frantic adults with trolleys piled high with food, dragging screaming children down crowded aisles. Pushing and shoving to get through the queues as soon as possible. Muzak pumped up to a volume that makes ears bleed.
It’s not hard to imagine the Grim Reaper popping down to the local supermarket for a litre of calcium-enriched milk and being gobsmacked at the chaos. I can see him pulling out his mobile and sending off a quick text to War, Pestilence and Famine: “You utter bastards! You started without me!” A reply would beep almost instantly: “Not us. Check your calendar. Merry Christmas you old bag of bones!”
And what’s the emergency? That the supermarket will be shut for one day? ONE DAY. I’ll say it again: it’s Christmas not the Apocalypse!
But what if it actually IS the Apocalypse this time? I’ll need some help to fight it off, so I’d better get James Marsters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jeremy Renner from the Avengers, and Nathan Fillion from Firefly to be at my side.