Merry Happy, everyone. I’m in jovial spirits on this Eve of Christmas. I’ve had a hashtagblessedly slow paced day. Got to the gym, did a little food shopping and I’ve been relaxing in front of the computer. No stresses or responsibilities, just “me” time. Plans for the next few days are constantly in flux and I couldn’t be more pleased. Well, that’s a lie. I’d be chuffed if I got a Turbo Man doll for Christmas, but peace and quiet is some consolation. Why is any of this notable at all? Because it’s all a departure from the norm and shows character development. What am I talking about? Let’s harken back a few years.
Christmas wasn’t always the easiest time as a kid. Yes, it was nice that classes often devolved into watching The Santa Clause, but it was also an emotionally difficult period. I grew up Jewish in New Zealand. Do you know how many Jews NZ had in the 90s? Roughly 8,000 or so. It was a “menorah-ty” as one of my friends oft’ said. Christmas in my eyes was like cruel window shopping. All the kids around me had a great time, getting big gifts, new toys and the like. It wasn’t all a wash. We had close family friends and we’d go around there for a barbecue every Christmas. Their family business was holiday/party supplies, so accordingly they cranked (but not Kranked, thankfully) Christmas up to 11. It’d be bacon, eggs and sausages, plus beer once we got old enough. We’d go over there for a few hours, then in the afternoon I’d call up all of my friends to hear what they got for Christmas. Vicarious enjoyment was half as good as the real thing. There was no disguising the fact that I felt kind of left out. It sucked, which led to a general contrarian approach to the season. I’d pride myself on “sticking it to the man” and giving Christmas the middle finger. The Grinch became my patronus and I’d wallow in negative feelings for the holiday period.
As I entered my early 20s and our close family friends moved away, Christmas fell apart. I had nothing to do, so I’d hang around on my own and drink. This morning I was checking my Facebook memories and it was one drunken lonely Christmas after another. It wasn’t all bad. While I was flatting with friends, for instance, I’d start drinking in the morning and in the afternoon they’d come home and join in. One year we created a Community drinking game, then discovered the joys of live heckling Jersey Shore while devouring our friend’s gingerbread house (he was there, it wasn’t a rogue demolition). Or even better was the year at Sky TV I managed to work during Christmas. I got time and a half and a day in lieu. They fed us, gave us a bottle of champagne and movie tickets for coming in on Christmas. It was all sorts of great.
After I moved to Canada, things shifted yet again. My flatmate at the time had family across the other side of the country. We had a few other friends who were transplants, so we started doing Orphan’s Christmas. It was messy, wacky and a total blast. It quickly became a tradition that outlasted that flatmate. It’s now become a valued part of the holiday season each year. A few weeks beforehand we’ll put out a message welcoming anyone without family or friends around to join our table. Everyone brings food or drink and we get merry to our hearts’ and stomachs’ content.
This year it didn’t happen. We put out the offer, but everyone seemed to have plans, which left us marooned without any. As it stands, we’re still not sure. A couple of things are floating, but with zero urgency it’s kind of nice. Friends are hosting a casual Christmas Eve get together today. We’ve got some ribs defrosting that we’ll toss in the slow cooker tomorrow. A friend who lives close by is also unoccupied so we’ll probably head around there for some cheer. Other friends are keen to do a movie night later on. We’ll probably go see a Star War on boxing day. The greatest part is, we’re free and flexible to follow our own schedule. Look at me, I’m having an afternoon beer simply because it’s a nice idea.
Maybe I haven’t changed that much from my early 20s. At least I’m not drunk before midday.