25.12.11

Five Things That Suck About Christmas

In case you didn't get the memo, it's Christmas today.

(Merry Christmas.)

Before you cock the candy-loaded gun or send evil reindeer after me, I'm a fan of Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/any holiday people pretend to observe in December in the company of their parents. 


No, even a determined atheist/agnostic and self-proclaimed (and almost certified) cynic like me can't find it in his heart to hate this holiday. It might be the cold and the snow, it might be the presents, it might be the cheery, everything-will-be-all-right attitude that most people decide to adopt, but Christmas is my second favourite holiday.*

(Definitely the presents.)

But as everything that's great in life, there are certain things about Christmas that suck. Some of them apply to almost everyone, some only to specific people. Here are five of them.

(*My first favourite holiday, as I've stated before, is Halloween.)

#1. It's the worst time to be alone.

It's never fun to be alone. Human beings are a social animal; it's part of our instincts to interact, to love and hate each other, to form friendships and all kinds of relationships and to want to be around each other.

(Although those instincts do tend to fade during office parties.)

But what seems sad at any given time becomes a million times worse during Christmas. Spending a Friday night in front of your computer, alone in your room? Pathetic at any given time, officially depressing during Christmas. Living miles away from your family? Potentially sad (or extremely fortunate, depending on the family) at any given time, seriously painful (or exhilarating) during Christmas. Having no friends that you can hang out with? Gloomy at best at any given time, a reason for alarm regarding suicide attempts during Christmas.

(And don't even get me started on being a teenager on the Upper East Side.)

There are two main reasons people tend to hate Christmas: (a) something really bad happened to them during Christmas in the past, or (b) there are things in their life that suck so bad they can't even pretend to be in the cheerful mood that the holiday demands.

(Batman, for example? Not a fan of Christmas.)

And who can honestly blame them?

#2. It's the worst time to be broke.

As I mentioned above, one of the greatest things about Christmas is the presents. As a child (and much like every single child in the entire fucking universe), I looked forward to the moment when I would wake up, run up to the tree and grab my presents, hungrily rip the wrapping off and discover what they were. Sometimes, when I was quite young, my dad would dress up as Father Christmas and deliver them to my brother, my sister and me. Most of the time, we just discovered them under the tree, mysteriously delivered during the night while we were asleep.

One year, my parents didn't have any money. I, of course, as a child, did not understand that. They didn't even tell me; they tried to ease my siblings and me into the forthcoming disappointment by mentioning that Father Christmas had run into some problems with our presents but I figured, hey, it's Father Christmas, it's his fucking job to get his shit straight and give us proper gifts.

("If you don't like it, there are a bunch of people waiting in line for the same job, pal.")

Imagine my surprise/anger/disappointment when I woke up and discovered that my present was a chocolate bar and a meagre amount of money. My parents tried to explain, saying that this year Father Christmas had focused on the poorer children in third-world countries, but I would hear none of it. "Why skip out on us? There are a bunch of rich children out there whose parents can buy presents if Father Christmas can't afford to. He's an asshole!" I didn't say that last part, but I thought it. And the things I did say, I'm pretty sure made my parents quite unhappy. When I look back on it now, I feel sad that I didn't understand. But I was a child, and children want presents.

And not just children. I'm 24 now, I still like presents. But this Christmas I'm officially broke. I currently have about £60 left for the next two weeks. You know what my Christmas present to myself was? Two used DVDs from CEX, £1 each.


(True story.)

#3. It's the worst time to be on a diet.

Do I even need to explain this one?

Think about it. The very symbolic figure of Christmas is an old, fat guy.

("Merry Christmas. Now eat!")

The whole point of Christmas Day is to have a scrumptious dinner with your family. The whole season is characterised by cold, snowy weather, presents and having drinks and eating sweets and pudding with friends and family by the fireplace. If you google "Christmas food", this is the type of results you get:

(I think I just gained five pounds just by looking at this.)

It's like an international prerequisite that if you want to enjoy Christmas, you have to gain weight. You don't even have to enjoy Christmas, but the weight-gaining part almost always remains. Unless your metabolism is insanely flexible and your body remains the same regardless of what you consume (in which case I think I speak for everyone when I say "fuck you"), you're doomed to Christmas pounds.


(And obviously not the good kind.)

Sure, this is not as bad as being lonely or broke, but who said that #1, #2 and #3 are mutually exclusive?

#4. It's the worst time to try to travel.

This might be exclusive to the UK, I'm not sure. I wanted to spend Christmas in Leicester with my family; I had yesterday and today off from work (a miraculous thing, considering my job is casual and we're therefore open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day), so it would have been perfect: I would take an early train on December 24th and a late train today and I'd be home on time for work tomorrow. East Midland Trains, however, begged to differ.

("Except on the days that matter the most.")

And not just East Midland trains. No, douchebaggery is not exclusive to them. The entire fucking train system freezes on the 25th in England. No tube, no buses, no trains, no DLR, nothing. The only thing that works are taxis, and they charge you a month's rent for a ride.

Look, I don't wanna be a dick. Sure, tube drivers deserve to spend Christmas with their families. But you know what? So do doctors. And nurses. And writers. And, hell, even baristas like me. And all these people get paid less than tube drivers. (Even certain doctors get paid less, according to my doctor flatmate.) So, it should come with the job description when you decide to be a tube driver, just as it comes with it when you decide to become a doctor, or nurse, or whatever: "there's a slight chance you'll work on holidays."

But nooooooooooooooooo. TfL would rather shut off the entire train system than mess with the needs of a bunch of people whose biggest concern is making sure they don't accidentally switch lanes. (Or, OK, run over some idiot.) And why wouldn't they? As Boxing Day and the tube drivers' massive strike over "unsatisfactory pay wage over the holidays" proves, the drivers can do what they want. Hell, they even demanded higher wages for the Olympics for having to "work harder". And they got them. Everyone will have to work harder during the Olympics, dear drivers. We won't get paid more.

("As a tube driver, one of my favourite pastimes is being a dick.")

#5. It's the worst time to do anything.

You name it, you try it, you'll see. Send a letter? It'll take twice the time to arrive. Go shopping? Good luck surviving. Go to the gym? Better check the opening times, they're probably gonna be 9.00am-9.15am. Fly abroad? Better wish it doesn't snow. All in all, wanna do something? Better wait until Christmas is over.

You see, the problem with Christmas is that it has to be celebrated, and in order for that to happen your life has to be put on hold. You have to take time off your job, and so does everyone else. (Almost.) And since that happens collectively, almost everything shuts down.

And that's even worse if you belong to the select few (or many) who don't get time off their job. So... you have to work over Christmas, you have to endure listening to other people's plans about Christmas, and you have to wait for anything important you want or need to do since the service is going to be limited and sucky during Christmas. Still enjoying the holidays?

(Your future.)

So, yeah, anyway... Merry Christmas, y' all! I hope you have a great one! Talk to you soon.

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