Is it just me or are years flying by way too fast?
It seems like only yesterday when I was recovering from Christmas 2011 and, hey presto, here it is again. As a self-confessed grumpy old git, you may imagine that I adopt the role of Ebenezer Scrooge at this time of year and start moaning about humbugs.
That’s not true. Well – sometimes it is to be fair.
I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas; there are elements that I love and embrace, and there are elements that I despise. I’m sure that regular readers will have a guess at which bits of the festive season drive me crazy, given the things I’ve ranted about before on this cyber soapbox.
I thought it would be a nice idea to share with you what I hate and what I love about this time of year.
Without further ado, here are the pros and cons of Christmas.
(1) Choosing presents – I find it really difficult to decide what to buy everybody. I find my thoughts drifting to what I want, which means that I have to resist buying a heavy metal album for Mrs PM for example. Mrs PM says that by now, after almost 15 years together, I should easily be able to select a suitable gift. And I can – after I have beaten myself up over it for several months. Come January, I will be thinking of what I can buy her for Christmas 2013 – yes it takes that long. And she is only one of the people I have to consider.
(2) Christmas shopping – I hate shopping at the best of times and it this time of year, this abhorrent pastime mutates into a monstrous experience – even if you want to buy something unrelated to the festive period. In Manchester we have a huge shopping mall called the Trafford Centre and in December it is like entering Hell itself. The enormous car parks are so full that arriving and leaving take hours to achieve, having blocked up the motorways and main roads around for hours. Inside the Trafford Centre all shops are absolutely crammed with hapless shoppers, none of whom want to be there. You have to queue for hours to actually buy what you want and queue for more hours to leave the bloody place. And supermarkets are the same. There is so much food to buy that the weekly shop becomes a nightmare. People buy so much food you would think that they have predicted World War 3 and are planning for four years in a bunker to avoid nuclear fallout.
(3) Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year. My birthday is 8th October and I use that as a marker to see whether Christmas adverts have started or not. In the past, the first commercials appeared in late October. More recently the adverts have started much earlier; it was in September this year meaning that we have to spend a quarter of the year suffering bloody Christmas commercials – three bloody months of it.
(4) The Queen’s Christmas Message. I am ambivalent when it comes to Liz. I neither hate her nor love her. To me she is just another celebrity who happens to get a lot of media attention. Why should I be even remotely interested in anything she has got to say? I haven’t. The only thing I have in common with Liz and her family is that we live in England. Apart from that I care not one jot about her thoughts, her wisdom or her opinions. Why this is prime time TV on Christmas Day is beyond me.
(5) Travelling. Since I moved to Manchester in 1984, I have had to spend the Christmas period driving around the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West of England visiting people who demand my presence. Back in 1984 I thought to myself, one day you will all come to me. It is now 2012 and there is absolutely no chance of that happening, This year I have to drive for three hours on Christmas Day, an hour and a half on Boxing Day and three hours the day after that. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
(6) Bad presents. I wish people would just say – “Here’s £20 – go and buy something you like.” Instead I get slippers, hankies and after shave – repeatedly.
Enough of that “Bah! Humbug!” nonsense. Here are the pros:
(1) Time off work. I love being off work and at Christmas I usually manage a week or two off work. I love to wake up with the knowledge that I can stay in bed, relax, go for a walk and take it easy for the duration of the Christmas Holiday period.
(2) Christmas Parties and socialising. Christmas parties can be an amazing experience, with either friends, family or work colleagues and usually I end up attending quite a few events. Generally the pubs and restaurants are full of joy and cheer anyway but whether you go to the pub with your mates or end up at a Christmas Party, fun is freely available to make even the most boring Scrooge smile occasionally – even me:
(3) Kids – Kids love Christmas and there is nothing better than seeing the faces of children when they see Father Christmas and open their presents on the big day. Sadly my two are too old now (19 and 16) and no longer have that innocent enthusiasm.
(4) Good presents. Occasionally I have genuinely surprised when receiving gifts. As I said above, these days I love it when people give me gift vouchers or cash so that I have an excuse to hit the sales or go online and splash out on something wonderful for myself.
(5) Christmas Markets. In recent years there has been a trend in Britain where major cities welcome European style markets selling all sorts of Christmas goodies. The annual Christmas Market in Manchester is usually packed but mulled wine is abundant and you can relax in a bar supping your mulled wine or the alcoholic beverage of your choice while watching people enjoying the experience. A great way to spend a few hours in the run up to Christmas.
(6) Food. I love Christmas fare, particularly mince pies. Mrs PM and I eat them by the bucket load and any diets we are considering are shelved for a week or two. Christmas is the time of year when you basically tell your diet to “Bugger off”. I genuinely do not feel bad about gaining a few pounds. Such things can be dealt with in January. This year on Christmas Day I will end up looking like a roly poly old man as I settle down in front of the TV to watch the Dr Who Christmas special. And I won’t care at all.
Well that’s it for now.
I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas whether you are a regular reader or a poor unfortunate who has stumbled across this post by accident.
May Father Christmas bring you all the gifts that you want – but please – no more socks and hankies. I have so many now that I could open a shop.