Times are tight, as is the money supply, and this year we’ll be sending gifts and money to close friends and family as usual. As well as sponsorship for youngest daughter, who is firewalking for charity this year. But with the kids (Grown up young women really) and other family on the other side of the Atlantic and Pacific, Angie and I will be making this festive season a very low key affair. We’ll have a guest and friends over for Christmas eve and day but won’t be making a big thing of it. Don’t think I’ll bother with a tree. I might string up a few lights, but that’s all. I’ve even managed to avoid the day job Christmas party. Which gets me out of the interminable gift giving I can’t afford to people I hardly know. Fine if you’re well paid and have money to spare. Not so fine if you aren’t and haven’t. My boss was surprised when I told her I didn’t want to come, but respects what I do, at least enough to acquiesce. She even sat down as if expecting an explanation. I just hunkered down to begin my shift and said it would take a decade to explain why this time of year always makes me uncomfortable. Which it does.
This doesn’t mean I hate Christmas or any other time of year. No, I say live and let live. Respect the rights of others. If they want to participate, fine. Just don’t judge me for wanting to have a quiet time instead. Maybe work a little, go easy on the whole conspicuous overconsumption thing, smile affably, nod, walk on by. Chill away from the fuss, noise and ‘fun’. Most of it’s for the kids anyway.
John Grisham has a little novella called ‘Skipping Christmas’ about a couple who want to take a break from interminable ‘celebration’ and go on a cruise. Like all these cautionary tales it doesn’t end well for Luther and his wife. Charles Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’ and other like works of emotional blackmail are, like Santa, fantasies for small children. “Be like everyone else or bad things will happen.” Is the implied threat. Real life is usually somewhat more forgiving. ‘Couple go away for Christmas, save money and have a really nice relaxing time’ wouldn’t have made much of a story.
As I shall be working on and off, as well as putting in time and energy on my major writing projects, the TV will stay tuned to Netflix and YouTube. We’ll spend time with close friends. New year calls for study, when I intend to improve my various Technical Writing certifications. Writing novels is all very well, but it’s not very good at paying the rent.