Don't try to reconnect with your family this Christmas
A friend told me this year she was spending Christmas alone, in front of the telly with a Domino’s pizza, and I have so much respect for that
Every time I receive a “Merry Christmas!” text from a distant family member, I want to throw my iPhone into the Thames.
Once upon a time, Christmas was a holy day spent celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But now it’s a day spent with immediate family over a cluttered table of roasted food, followed by an evening of getting pissed in front of the telly.
The day is spent calling your brother every expletive under the sun for forgetting to take the turkey out of the freezer to defrost, or screaming at your father for using coffee granules instead of Bisto for the gravy.
It’s the time of year to truly celebrate the art of broigus (that's Yiddish for family feud).
My family oozes broigus. Every year we fight, bicker, and smash plates on each other’s heads over who burnt the carrots, what we are going to watch on the Sky box, and pretty much anything else we can think of. My dad conveniently disappears after our present-opening ceremony in the morning and isn’t seen again until he can smell the roast potatoes being dished up, while my brother spends all day talking to his “friends” on his Xbox. My mother, well and truly fed up, spends the evening sulking and dropping subtle hints at how annoyed she is by periodically calling us all sh*theads.
And me? I spend the whole day unsuccessfully trying to avoid everyone.
Christmas Day is sold to us as the one day of year where sadness and boredom are magically abolished – and that idea is enforced with stringent Santa totalitarianism throughout the festive period. Anyone who hates Christmas is considered a bore, a Grinch and a miserable old sod.
Well, so be it. Anyway, who wants to have to sit through three hours of your pro-Brexit grandmother frothing at the mouth about “those immigrants who are taking all the jobs” while your posh auntie screeches about her umpteenth trip to Dubai?
Meanwhile, these big companies insist on bulldozing their intolerable adverts down our throats, an endless portrayal of smiling white and black parents with beautiful, dual-heritage kids salivating over their oily chicken breast while old Elton just so happens to be twinkling tunes on his piano. I don’t know about you, but whenever I play the piano in my house, my parents tell me to shut up and put the telly on. This is why Elton is a millionaire and I’m broke.
But I’m over the concept that families should reconnect at Christmas – it’s a total farce. Why should you have to spend an entire week with people you don’t want to see, forced to act merry and drink heavily at the same while expected to keep your mouth about the fact that everyone is a bit of an arsehole?
Even worse, once you’re back home and someone’s spotted you, the text messages from people you have barely spoken to all year will come flooding through. It’s all I can take not to reply to their efforts to reach out with an overly enthusiastic “Merry Christmas, now kindly f**k off”. The problem is that Christmas encourages a vain sense of hope in friends you stopped seeing years ago because you genuinely have nothing in common, and bolsters unrealistic expectations. It doesn’t matter how incompatible we might really be outside of this day; just for now we’re allowed to pretend everything’s fine! runs the narrative. Such misplaced optimism can only end in bitter disappointment, come the new year.
A friend told me this year she was spending Christmas alone, in front of the telly with a Domino’s pizza, and I have so much respect for that.
You may slam people like her and me as ungrateful millennials who can’t give our families the respect they deserve – but why? When you have a difficult situation at home anyway, removing yourself from the most high-pressure day of the year might be the kindest thing you could do – and forcing yourself back into the melee when no one has time for nuance could be the worst.
Call me miserable, call me a bore, but this year I’m letting everyone know that I won’t be partaking in forced family activities or celebrations. And ever since my parents’ fulgurating coloured Christmas lights gave me an epileptic seizure, I don’t think anyone will feel justified in complaining. Santa Claus may be coming to town – but I’m happy not to pretend that everything in the world is OK because of it.