Christmas Dread

One of the great joys of living alone or, rather, without close relatively in close vicinity is that I do not have to care much about Christmas. I’ve cared about it less and less with each passing year. In a past life, before my mother decided that she’d sell up and move to Texas, I would, more often than not, spend Christmas with her. As her boyfriend and I get on about as well as Ayatollah Khameini and Benjamin Netanyahu, that has made any Christmas together a virtual impossibility.

I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer people are showing any real enthusiasm for the season. Fewer and fewer people exchange cards. For many, keeping up appearances is all. It’s about buying the right gift, the correct accessory even if finances are tight and stress levels unbearable. The rictus smiles and fake cheer, weaker and weaker each time, are simply depressing. I’ve come to content myself with watching documentaries that capture the true joy of the season — documentaries about the narcotics trade, drug cartels, social breakdown, urban decay, etc. The honesty of it warms the cockles.

I suspect that I will, in spite of myself, drag my carcass to an Anglican midnight service this year. It will be my last Christmas in Dorset. I’ve booked a one-way flight to San Francisco from Denmark. Who knows when I’ll be in Europe again, it will be at least two years, so I thought I’d visit the Vikings on my way out. I’m not entirely thrilled about going, but it seems necessary. It’s become clear that I’ll need to be physically present at work at least a few times a month. The nature of my position has its conveniences, but there are limits to what I can do from over 5000 miles away. It’s not as if I’ve found anything that replace my position.Now, it’s only a matter of making the most of it.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

17 thoughts on “Christmas Dread”

  1. Christopher, I have always enjoyed Christmas.
    As a child we were very traditional. Up very early for opening presents, ham and tomato breakfast (the only day of the year when we ate that for breakfast), mum and dad working hard with oversized turkey, Christmas pudding, the works.
    Boxing day was visits from cousins, aunts, uncles. I had many of them.
    I married early and continued the traditions, partly because I didn’t know any different. My wife was similar.
    This continued until our divorce. My second wife (Bettina), sharing a Christmas with my ex wife would have never been possible. They would have made a meeting of you and your Mum’s boyfriend appear like a love-in by comparison.
    So we stopped visiting the UK at Christmas to be with children and grandchildren.
    In our forties we always went skiing on Christmas Day but nowadays usually go for a long walk, with the slow cooker offering us a ready casserole when we return.
    I think I may have said before. I have lived in a number of countries, very different to each other, but have loved my time in all of them. It’s the same with Christmas. I have enjoyed it in many different ways, but have always enjoyed it.
    The glass can be half full or half empty. It is always half full for me.
    Tomorrow we put up a Christmas tree and decorate the house.

  2. Gaz: My father had a miserable childhood, Christmas was always the hardest time for him. Each year beginning in November his mood would start to get darker and he’d get pettier and pettier. But that was always my father. It wasn’t that he had an easy life — he didn’t — but he was only all too happy to continue that cycle of destruction and misery while blaming everyone else for his failures and weaknesses. I grew up with a lot of traditions, but also a lot of dysfunction. I stopped caring about a lot of things a long time ago and I do what I can to do what I like, not what is traditional or, perhaps, conventional. Getting together with mates and taking the piss out of each other is more important to me than Christmas dinner. A good day is a good day, whether it’s Boxing Day or some random day in summer.

    I actually like the UK and, generally speaking, I enjoy living in the UK. The problem is, it’s not really viable at the moment. The economy is crook. A lot of people are struggling, it isn’t only me so I certainly don’t think I’m special or that any of this is personal. I’ve been getting pressured to work full time in California for a few years now. Things at work are coming to a head so I know that I’ll need to turn up at the office a couple times a month at least in the near future. I will, of course, periodically return to the UK.

  3. The older I get, the more I enjoy Christmas, probably because of children and grandchildren. The Christmas services with traditional carols and readings from the King James version – I must insist on that – also remind me of my own childhood. Perhaps I’m just sentimental. So if you go to a Christmas service, Christopher, I hope you may have some happy memories. When you get to California, you’ll have to share it with Megan Markle and her ego.

  4. Sheona, I am a committed atheist, yet I love Christmas. We go to the village Christmas concert in our village and sing along as best as we can in Catalan.
    I don’t find it wrong or hypocritical to enjoy the season of good will, while at the same time not believing in a God.
    Christianity lends itself quite well to people like me. ☺

  5. Sheona: The Anglican church were I attend regular services is across town. I don’t mind going in the mornings, but I’m rather more nervous about walking around alone at night because of the number of drunks milling about. As a result, the past couple years I went to the Catholic church which is much closer. I had a Catholic childhood so the songs, tinkling of bells and scent of incense brought back memories. This time, I might as well do it properly.
    The fragrant Ms Markle is a typical SoCal ego-case. She’s nothing remarkable for the LA set. I shan’t be going there.

  6. I’m with you Christopher. Christmas bores and irritates me the older I get.
    As an adult I have always actively chosen to work whenever possible so as to avoid the excess and falseness of it all. As a committed atheist I take the view that Christmas is merely an adaptation of a pagan winter festival, so all the crap that goes with St Nicholas and associated elves is just commercialised rubbish. Any other view would make me a hypocrite, surely?
    This year, at last, my perfect day: Mrs C and I will go for a long dog walk in the morning, open a decent bottle of red or two with some cheese in the afternoon, snuggle up on the sofa with just the dogs and Mrs C and watch a (non-Christmas) movie or two in the evening. No fuss, no nonsense, no blimin’ tinslel. Rellies all seen the weekend before, back to work Boxing day and a round of golf on the 27th. Lovely.
    I have asked all that know me to not buy a gift but to donate to a dog rescue centre instead. Or, double up on my birthday gift five days later 🙂
    Bah humbug.
    That said, live and let live, so I wish all Charioteers a wonderful time!

  7. Love Christmas me. In fact I love it that much that I am addicted to the Sony Movies Christmas TV channel. It is compulsive viewing ploughing through an endless stream of b-movie turkeys.
    Got to admit though, that my mind snowballs away from the story arc sometimes, and I revise things in my head like African capital cities or the discography of Frank Zappa;
    Conakry, Lumpy Gravy, Malabo, Ship arriving too late to save a drowning Witch.

    Time for my pills I think (not a Zappa song or African capital, for the avoidance of doubt)

  8. For the first time for a long time, we are not putting up the tinsel and lights this year as the NSW is working from 22nd to 31st and we decided not to bother. I’m taking lunch round on 25th and am roasting a haunch of pig with all the trimmings for our festive lunch on New Year’s day to celebrate her return and to welcome 2020.

    As for prezzies, I got a new fridge for the beer and she got a new pooter and a book (Windows 10 for Dummies). Romantic, no, but practical and what we both needed.

    It’s pishing down in Algarve and forecast to be so until after Christmas. As it’s the first proper rain since May and the region is officially in a state of ‘seca extrema’ (drought), one mustn’t complain, but I do long for tucking into a leg of lamb, salad and a couple of bottles of Wolf Blass shiraz on the beach at Mooloolaba. *Sigh*


  9. Hello OZ. I would like to talk to you about Portugal as a potential destination if Zimbabwe becomes uninhabitable, which is beginning to appear likely. Would you be willing to do that?

  10. Boa tarde, Sipu. Sorry to hear that things have got so bad in your homeland. I would be happy to assist to the best of my ability with any questions you may have, but how are we going to do this? I don’t think we should clutter up the Chariot unless B&B are agreeable and anyway you may not want everything visible on a public forum. If you wish, try an email to me at (Deleted) Please do let me know on this thread if you have sent something as it is not my everyday email address and I have to actively access it.


  11. As soon as either Sipu or OZ confirm that contact has been made, I will remove the email address.

    Oz: The weather in Dorset is absolutely dreadful, between the wind and heavy rain. My poor brolly is nearing the end of its short life and I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new Asian model that promises to be better engineered for the conditions. Still, I’d rather take this weather than face the fires that Australia is currently enduring. If Western society would ever pull its collective head out of its posterior, the greens would have a lot to answer for since they’re the ones who’ve been blocking back burning and brush clearing in California and Australia with catastrophic consequences.

  12. My memories of childhood Christmases are mixed – and their legacy spilled over into later years.

    My mother’s favourite saying was ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’ – and I had that drummed into me at a very, very early age. So I never asked. It took me a long time to work out that if I didn’t ask how was I to get what I wanted!

    Nonetheless, at Christmas I got everything I could have ever asked for. Not for me a stocking with just an orange and a small toy. I had pillowcases stuffed full of everything I could wish for – except for some reason I never got a train set! I still remember that as being Wonderland.

    Then came the ‘bad’ bit. Both of my parents worked on Christmas day – so I was taken to my grandmother, leaving all those goodies behind.

    True, I was sat on a little stool with a bowl of nuts which I could eat to my heart’s content while statuesque Great Aunt Hetty proclaimed about her latest religious discovery, little round Great Aunt Nelly insisted that I didn’t fidget, and my beloved Great Grandmother told me about her childhood in Lincolnshire – I do so wish that I had asked her more questions.

    Then Nan would dish up Christmas dinner. Alas! She was no Nigella. The mashed potatoes and cabbage disintegrated into greasy gravy – putting me off eating all three items until this very day.

    And all the while dreaming about all those wonderful goodies awaiting me at home.

    Mum & Dad would turn up, have a huge row and we’d go home.

    Boxing Day was the once-a year visit to my paternal grandmother

    … and finally I could spend as much time as I liked with all the pressies I had received!

    Roll forward a few years, when I had my own children.

    Like my mother I was never a parent who bought lots of toys for my children throughout the year. But come Christmas I made sure that they also had pillowcases stuffed full of everything that they wanted. I am delighted that they, like me, have good memories of that bit of Christmas.

    However, visits to Grandparents were off limits – so every single year I had an amazing argument with my mother who tried to insist that I took the children to visit her on Christmas Day. I flatly refused – she could come to me – but I was NOT taking them to her.

    Two Christmases ago I did my very last Family Christmas dinner and from now on they will be very low-key. I’m cooking the turkey for lunch with my daughter – and take home a ‘doggy bag’ for the next day.

    I have avoided the shops – where people seem to stocking up enough food for Armageddon – and where normal ‘good manners’ seem to have been forgotten.

    Merry Christmas to all – and enjoy it the way that suits you!

  13. Welcome back, Boadicea. I’ve been waiting in vain for tales of your visit to India and had started to fear that either you never made it back home or have been confined to hospital suffering from advanced “inner turmoil” arising from things you’d eaten or drunk while there.

    It’s good to hear from you again and oh, yes, to read your account of Christmases past. I find myself unable to recall such detail from my own childhood (yes, I actually had one), except for the year I fell right over a bicycle that had materialized in the living room. Perhaps I ought to work on it a bit. As things stand, I have only a generalized sense of “warm fuzzies” from those times gone by. Nowadays, I’ve morphed into an “angry loner” who’d much prefer to avoid festivities – except perhaps for a Christmas Eve carol service at a church that, at least for that event, doesn’t mangle the liturgy too badly.

    Happy Humbuggery to all!

  14. Hello OZ. My apologies for the tardy response. I have just sent an email to the address provided. I hope that we can establish proper comms off line.

    Thanks Boadicea, it is always interesting to hear how other people spent Christmas during their childhood. This year ours will be subdued, but we have some interesting people coming round, including a doctor who lives and practises in Bundaberg, of all places, and an octogenarian university lecturer, with a vast knowledge and a wicked sense of humour. The food will be good too.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  15. Christopher, hello again. I have received Sipu’s email and replied accordingly. We are hoping to progress things once Cog’s aptly described seasonal “humbuggery” has receded. Thanks both for your patience and for B&B’s tolerance. Please can you now remove my OZ email address from the thread.

    Feliz Natal e um próspero Ano Novo para todos.

    Best wishes,


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