We interrupt these Christmas stories for a sudden dose of harsh reality. It’s distinctly unfestive, so apologies in advance.
For me, one of the most difficult things about Christmas is the whole concept of it being a family event. From early November, the idea of the conventional family unit is mercilessly shoved down our throats by advertisers, by tradition, and in just about every conversation anyone ever has about the festive season. For reasons too numerous and definitely too emotionally and historically complex to go into here — although rest assured, I’m talking about issues that are far more serious than just getting annoyed with Grandma for constantly wanting to play Monopoly on Christmas Day — I can’t cope with it. Sorry.
Last night, I uttered five words, got up from my place at the table and left the restaurant without looking back. I walked out on a family event — possibly the largest gathering of various relatives that has taken place in the past few years. Was that heartless? Probably. Do I feel guilty? Yes. But I had to do it, just to avoid being hurt again.
In recent months, I’ve been trying to teach myself not to care so much. But it’s difficult. You’re supposed to care because they’re your blood ties, they’re your family, they represent you and you represent them. Those are the rules.
I’m confused, so to preserve a sense of emotional equilibrium I keep telling myself that if I see just one more soft-focus advertisement of a family unwrapping presents around a roaring log fire, I will scream.
Except I won’t, of course. The simple fact is that I’m a diehard romantic, and I dream in soft-focus just as much as the next person standing in the cold bus queue.
Thank heavens it’s Sunday afternoon and no one’s reading this, yet how annoying that I don’t seem to be able to turn off the comments function for this entry. Accuse me of being unseasonal at your peril.