Paris Portingale waxes poetic about the magical time of Christmas, the love of family and friends, and the giving and receiving of gifts. And then there’s the truth of it.
As you go through life, you get a buildup of people around you who, given the choice, you’d rather not have much to do with.
Relatives, in-laws, people who know your wife, friends of friends, some of their friends, and, if the truth be known, you know even the council would reject them for landfill, and the thing never hits home more solidly than at Christmas.
The thing about Christmas is, around February, March, you start to forget how things turned out and it all becomes a kind of distant, unpleasant blur, like your prostate operation or any of the other things that landed you in hospital over the year.
Then March turns into April and April becomes May and the year progresses and then Christmas turns up again and there are the landfill people once more, standing around in your living room.
So, it’s afternoon and you’re looking around at everyone in the paper hats, holding drinks with little umbrellas, and just about everyone has some sort of food stuck to their face and they’re all talking about something that drags tedium to a new low level and they’ve all got children and you know their children are probably going to have children and the whole thing’s never going to stop and you start to get that déjà vu thing like this has all happened before and it was probably last Christmas, and you get drunk.
Now, it’s next day and you start on the mess and you divide all the gifts from the day before into two piles: Pile A, the good stuff, and Pile B, the really not so good stuff. And by the time you’re finished, you find it’s all just the one pile and, you guessed it, it’s Pile B. I’m not going to make any attempt to describe what’s in the pile, except to say that it’s depressing to the point of looking for the razor blades and it’s there in your living room in a big mess.
Even if you had the receipts you could never take any of the stuff back, it would be too embarrassing and, anyway, you can’t take the chance because some of these people are going to come back to see how you’re enjoying the Roto-Tumbler or the thing for cracking walnuts that weighs a ton and takes up half the bench space. Even when these people die you still can’t throw any of it away because by then their kids will have had kids, so you can’t take the risk.
And, of course, there’s no room for it anywhere because you’ve still got stuff from the last twenty Christmases. The garage is full, you haven’t been able to get the car in there for ten years, and there’s no more room under the house or in the ceiling or the wall cavities, so you start to consider building a shed out the back only when you start thinking about it you realize that, to be viable for any distance into the future, the thing’s going to have to be the size of an aircraft hangar, so you just get drunk and that’s the day after Christmas taken care of.
The next couple of weeks you’re drinking pretty much from when you wake up, but then suddenly it’s February again and you’ve forgotten why you’ve been drunk for so long and you start drinking normally again and things aren’t so bad for a while.
But it can’t stay February forever and March comes along, and then April and May, but Christmas is well behind you and things are going along pretty much as they did before. It’s not until around November, the start of December, you start to get that uneasy feeling. You’re not sure what it is, but it’s there, niggling away at the back of your brain, something ominous. It’s Christmas of course, but that won’t hit home for another couple of weeks yet.