Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Not a Scrooge, Just Puzzled

This time last year I was unemployed in Glasgow but visiting Bristol for an Aussie Expat Christmas. It's officially Christmas today, but the family had our Christmas last weekend, so I'm doing not much at all at the moment; trying to clean out my inbox, grazing on leftovers, listening to birds squabbling on the fence.

The internet is full of Merry Christmases. They're everywhere, like an ant infestation. But without the itchiness. Disregarding my absence from the radar of late, I wonder if my lack of a similar well-wishing broadcast is noticed, is judged.

I never quite know how to position myself on Christmas. I mean, sure, it's everywhere, everywhere, and we've always acknowledged it. In a sort of, I don't know, Australian way? We're not Christian in any sense, we're not pagan, we don't adhere to any of the rituals from which Christmas stems. Santa Claus has not featured in many years. We don't put up a Christmas tree.

What we do is, get our small family together, have a fabulous meal, swap some presents, drink some beer and wine, and relax. That's all. I'd say the only real tradition we have is the salad. It's special. We all love it, and we only eat it once a year. (That said, this year may have started the tradition of the Christmas Fan, which stood in for the Christmas Tree. Assuming every Christmas is a hot day from here on in, which given the weather, isn't great odds.)

Wishing the greetings of the season feels oddly false to me. Perhaps because I'm too aware of the friends I have, who are many, for whom Christmas isn't an event participated in, and I know all to well that having to assert your autonomy when presented with so many good intentions is exhausting. Maybe I can't help but think of all the people for whom Christmas is something to dread, whether because of unrealisitic social expectations or family issues, and for whom yet another cheerful seasons greetings may possibly be the last straw. To be thankful without gloating; surely that does not require a public broadcast.

Maybe this just ties back into not wanting to add to the noise of the world. There are plenty of well-wishes out there to go around.

I like the mince pies. I really like giving presents. I like my family. I like days off. I like that salad. I probably even like you. But I don't think Christmas belongs to me.

Just wait til New Years. That's a calendar I may live by, but haven't chosen.