Firstly I’m not religious but I was brought up in a Christian home. So I grew up with Christmas but the more I despised the local Christian community, the more I bought into a Christmas of charity and family. I loved buying gifts for people.
When I was 10, I decided enough was enough because it was about time I gave something back. I saved up all my pocket money to sneakily buy my parents and grandparents presents. They were amazed because I had stubbornly decided Santa wasn’t fair if I got presents and they didn’t. At that point I didn’t believe in Santa, (for years I’d been asking Santa to make me a real boy, so yeah…) but I put on a good show for my little sister. That first time I got a rush, and I’ve loved buying gifts ever since.
However I loved making gifts even more, because it shows you’ve gone the extra mile and put more effort into the process. When I got with my current bed mate, it escalated. I had the freedom to make cookies and gingerbread houses and chocolates and anything else my heart desired. So I did, but like most things in my life it backfired. I wouldn’t have minded if my sugary fame had spread and more and more people wanted cookies and such…but it didn’t. Last year I made chocolate houses for some friends and families. I spent hours making sure everyone had an individual house with a perfectly angled roof, fitted door, garden path, trees, snow men and people. Each house was even decorated with frosted roofs and little colourful sugar lights. I poured my heart and my soul into every one of those houses. Yet my family tore my heart out. Their houses sat in the fridge until they had gone moldy and speckled, yet they wouldn’t get rid of them. Apparently they were too pretty to eat, yet no one ever seemed excited by them. So I took them out of the fridge, smashed them and discarded them and with them went the part of me that loved baking and making Christmas treats. For you see I hate Christmas, not in general, but my Christmases. I haven’t had a happy Christmas ever and I haven’t had a sober one since I was 15.
The day would go like this, (starting on Christmas Eve,) I’d fake being asleep or ill so I wouldn’t be made to go to midnight mass at the church. Then I’d be alone to finish off my wrapping; try have a nice shower; and have (what’s now become a tradition) a white hot chocolate spiked with Merlyn liquor, topped with cream and sprinkles. I’d sit and shed a tear for the day to come whilst watching a late night Christmas special. Then I’d go to bed because the alcohol would make me sleepy.
When I was little I used to wake up when my parents put out a stocking and a sack of presents. I’d wait till they’d gone to sleep and then stand before the gifts filled with hope, that this Christmas might be better. I’d read for a few hours then wake my sister up. We would then stealthily drag our pressents into our room and spend hours quietly comparing stockings and eating sweets. For years that was the best part of my Christmas. We had so much fun in those hours before it was acceptable to wake my parents up.
When I got older that all stopped. I’d be woken up by my heavy footed parents putting out my presents and lie awake for hours shivering in a freezing bedroom and unable to go to sleep. I’d spend hours debating whether it was worth getting up at all until I was too cold to stay in bed anymore. Then I’d silently do my winter exercises to try warm my limbs and venture out to find what food I had in my stocking. Later I’d sneak into my sister’s room and see if she was awake. Then we’d organise bags of presents ready to give to our parents and wake them up. I quickly realised my parents were getting far more gifts and treats on Christmas than we were.
After my dad had opened his birthday presents, (yes he was born on Christmas day,) we’d go downstairs and be free to open our presents. Around 10-11 am we’d have half a single bacon sandwich then prepare to go to my granddad’s. Now I ring my precious to open presents together over the phone. The phone call usually hurts because I want nothing more than to be at his side and with his happy family. (Do you know they’re the type of family that had a piano and used to sing around it at Christmas? That’s how happy, kind and loving they are and I want that.)
Then we’d all go to my grandparents where they had more presents for me and my sister and had cooked hot food and a whole Christmas spread. There were several courses and lots of puddings. It was the one day a year I would eat well and be full. The rest of Christmas I would spend by myself, reading or asleep. What child is content to sleep the whole of Christmas away? Me. Now I spend the day drinking heavily and trying to avoid social interaction. I sneak extra alcohol to my grandparents and everything seems better because I’m plastered. Now that my grandma is dead we don’t even have the feast anymore. We just sit, gloomy, avoiding talking and watching T.V.
I hate my Christmas. I only have one happy Christmas memory with my family. It was last year and we actually acted like a normal family when putting up decorations. Everything was rosey and happy. No one was angry. There were no arguments and I wasn’t told off for being too loud (because my dad couldn’t hear the t.v), or being too happy. We even had Christmas music on. I made a pair of Santa hats for me and my love. Mine was blue and his was red and both had a black tinsel trim and black pompom.I was happy around my family at Christmas. (I lost that hat yesterday which made me want to write this post.)
So now I’m not at home for Christmas and I find it weird because people are happy at Christmas. I’m confused by Christmas movies that are full of happy families and Santa. I also want to be sober this Christmas for the first time in a decade. There’s going to be warm and tasty food. The house looks pretty. There’s presents under a tree waiting for people and teasing us all. People are wearing Christmas jumpers and look happy all the time. There’s cards too, coming and going and everything looks like a house in a Christmas film.
I’m finally understanding what a ‘Merry Christmas’ actually is and I so want it.
So Happy Christmas be it religious or just an excuse to spread love and joy.