People wonder why I’m come across so ‘bah humbug’-esque about Christmas.

After working in high-street retail for, oh far too many years, I can hold very, very little affection for this time of year. It’s associated with having to force myself out onto cold, icy streets (like we have at this very moment in Glasgow) to serve a lot more miserable people than usual, who say they want to “get it all out of the way” and seemingly despise the whole thing so much that they’re determined to destroy any sense of happiness others may previously have had about the ‘festive season’. Festive? My arse!

See, the root of all my seasonal issues is as follows, I never believed in Santa Claus. In fact, I’m not entirely sure my memory stretches back to a time when anyone tried to make me believe in Santa Claus (and my memory unfortunately stretches back reasonably far). Christmas was, in most instances, a ‘testing’ time in my family. Us lot, getting together for a lovely meal, sharing meaningful gifts and novelty jumpers with hugs and kisses? Now now, don’t be silly!

Maybe we didn’t have the most joyously overblown Christmas celebrations, but being a good 400 miles away from my family at this time of year, just as much as any other time, I miss being near. [Cliché alert] Familiarity does breed contempt, but absence occasionally makes the heart grow fonder.

I do distinctly remember two Christmases that I had in London, the rest are a semi-blur. They were the two best ones that I’d had before I moved up North. I spent them volunteering in the Salvation Army, trying to give vulnerable, often lonely people, a Christmas day shared with others, with a decent festive lunch, entertainment and perhaps most importantly, company. It was bloody hard work, up in the early morning to get picked up, preparing three courses for the lunch (with other volunteers helping of course), heading back out to collect the frail and infirm who couldn’t get there themselves. Then we welcomed the guests in, served up the meal, washed all the dishes and later sat chatting, playing board games and generally being nice to the folk who probably would not have seen another soul that day if they hadn’t have been there. You’d get home late, exhausted, but somehow those were two very happy Christmas Days for me.

It was only when I moved to Scotland that my better half and I realised that Christmas Day, spent with each other, could be something quite special, but in the most normal way. It was often the only extra day I’d get off (just like this year where I’ll be bitterly working Christmas Eve and angrily in on Boxing Day) and so it was spent lazily, no visits to family or friends (all done before or after), a late lie in (I see no reason to get up at dawn, I’m not going to miss anything bar sunrise!), really putting the time and effort in to making a GREAT dinner (there is no more important part of the day as far as I’m concerned) and then lazing about, eating biccies and chocs, watching awful TV, whatever. No fuss, no show, no bother, just a day, spent doing what we want to do. Oh, and we’d open some presents well after all of that. Probably just before going to bed…

I don’t want to start going preachy on your arses here, but presents aren’t what I’m about at all. I tell people not to get me anything and they think I’m joking, but I mean it. Of course, it’s nice to receive something, it’s nice to know that someone thought about you, but really, it’s not as important as the hordes of miserable shoppers would make out. I’d rather spend some quality time with those that I care about. If that isn’t what your festive season is about them you’re doing it all wrong. Well, I think so anyway. Presents and cash spent doesn’t mean you ‘care’, you should be showing that for more than one or two ‘special’ days a year.

But that’s all common sense. Of which Christmas shoppers have, oh I’d say, none. Tacky jumpers, several decades of pyjamas and three millenia worth of socks bestowed upon a men within a single day. Z-list branded celebrity perfume, erm, more perfume and erm, a sleazy lingerie set for the women? I’m awful for giving wine and scented candles to the women in my life!

Then there’s all the rest of the useless things that will end up in a bag for the charity shop by the end of January. Well, in fact, at least the charity shops get their biggest boost of the year after the fact.

Maybe you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Honestly, under the all the bah humbug is a kid that loves seeing the decorations in friends houses, turning the lights down and basking in the blinking, coloured flicker on their tree with a glass of Baileys, far away from the city centre madness. I just find it a tough time of year to enjoy wholly, but if you look closely, you will see a little glimmer in my eye that says “I really, really, really want to tell you what I’ve got you for Christmas!” as I hand over an awfully wrapped present that should sort of say “I do love you lot a hell of a lot.”

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