A folly good time, had by all
Don't drink and tweet. Photo: iStock
These are the 12 worst things about Christmas, in no particular order.
Disclaimer: before you inundate the poor editor with letters of protest, there are, of course, many things I like about Christmas. I am writing this column, negative though it might appear, after the event, in a spirit of improvement.
Round-robin letters: I don't hate them because they are lazy and often dull. I hate them because they almost invariably make me feel bad. Quite frankly, I don't want to know that Tarquin has been nominated forthe Nobel peace prize or that Ariadne is off to the Sorbonne. I have my own troubles.
The only round-robin letters I can tolerate are the ones that tell me Jayden is out on parole and Taylah got a new tatt. Those I like.
Christmas cards from businesses: It has become perfectly clear in the past few years that my husband and I have finally alienated all our friends. We did not receive any Christmas cards this year from anyone we haven't bought something from, no matter how many decades ago it might have been. Look closely at my jolly strings of Chrissie cards and you will see they are all thinly disguised ads, apart from the handful that contain smug round-robin letters.
Christmas music, films and episodes in long-running TV series: There are precisely two decent Christmas songs: Judy Garland's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas (War Is Over).
All the rest are rubbish. My decision on this is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
There are actually three good Christmas films: Meet Me in St Louis, It's a Wonderful Life and Love Actually, which is such a good Christmas film most people forget it is one. Anyway, Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman are in it, and that's good enough for me, even though Bill is singing a really bad Christmas song a lot of the time.
I cannot think of a single good Christmas episode from a TV series. I think my brain has, mercifully, blanked them all out.
Gifts that tell you more than you ever wanted to know: We all get boring presents – gift packs of lavender-scented toiletries, socks, hankies and cheap hampers. One year my father-in-law gave me a Best of Pat Boone CD. I threw out my entire wardrobe the next day.
But some presents reveal the tragic truth of a relationship you would rather keep deceiving yourself about.
A friend of mine received a carton of cigarettes as a gift a few years ago. This is never athoughtful or personal gift under any circumstances, but in this case the recipient had given up smoking agood five years previously. Bad enough, I hear you say, but it gets worse. They were from his father.
Turkey: There's a reason turkey has to be served with cranberry sauce, sage and onion, bread sauce and two kinds of stuffing: it doesn't actually taste of anything on its own, and is always – including this year – dry.
Panettone: See above, except it is served with ice-cream, cream, jam, fruit, brandy butter and/or custard.
Relatives and politics: As the world becomes more politically polarised, most of us have become fairly savvy about keeping our right-wing friends separate from our left-wing friends (those of us who have any left, that is) but that choice flies out the door when the rellies get together over the Christmas pud. Abbott versus Gillard, feminism versus sexism (and misogyny), climate sceptic versus climate believer, public versus private, vaxxer versus anti-vaxxer are dangerous and combustible combinations when alcohol is added. In my family, we count it a good Christmas if only insults are thrown rather than food or, worse, cutlery.
Christmas photos on Facebook: Great, now everyone can see you puce-faced and screaming as you hurl insults at your fascist uncle. They can compare this year's photo with last year's and see just how much weight you've gained. They can see you drunk-faced, with a wilting paper crown drooping over one eye (the other being closed) raising one more glass you should not have had.
And on Boxing Day, struggling with a category 10 hangover, you can enjoy reading the smart remarks your Facebook friends (the only type anyone has anymore) have contributed beneath thephotographs you are tagged in but have no memory of being taken.
Drunken Christmas tweeting: Drunken tweeting is a bad idea at any time, as I have discovered to my cost, but drunken Christmas tweeting is in a category all on its own. It can destroy not only the joint but careers and families in just 140characters. Every December 25, step away from the keyboard. Fingers crossed, I followed my own advice (memory a bit hazy).
People giving a goat to a village in your name: This is a win-win gift for the giver and a lose-lose gift for the receiver. The person who gives the goat can feel good about having done two wonderful and deeply satisfying things with one sweeping gesture. They have done something good for poor people and made you feel like crap. With this single Christmas gift, they have proved their moral superiority over you once and for all, and there isn't a damned thing you can do about it. Brilliant. Oh, and you haven't even got a present, although you gave them one.
Christmas performances by children: As soon as anyone suggests little Tarquin and/or Ariadne recite, sing, dance or play any kind of musical instrument, it's time to go home. Drunken adults doing any of the above is in an entirely different category. That is usually worth photographing – for your Facebook page.
Reindeer antlers and red noses on cars: Go outside and take them off right now. Honestly, what were you thinking?