Christmas gets grumpy when people make far too much effort, then get resentful when it is not appreciated enough. So don’t bother
By Deborah Orr
If there has ever been a Christmas that I’ve made fewer preparations for, then I can’t remember it. I’ve done no frantic spending on expensive gifts, or on expensive cards, or on wrapping paper. I’ve bought no party dresses. I’ve thrown no parties, or even been to many.
I’ve bought no particularly special food, apart from a leg of lamb off the internet, delivered to my mum, in Scotland.
I haven’t even left the house on a specifically Christmassy mission, unless you count taking my son to see The Nutcracker, which was wonderful. I’ve made one small effort — to lower expectations, offering the payback of lower expectations in return. This deal has invariably been accepted with enthusiasm. The result of this seeming indifference is that I’ve never looked forward to Christmas more. For such a long time I’ve seen the holiday as a stressful chore, one that I need another holiday to recover from (ho, ho). Suddenly, I’m thinking of it as … a holiday, pure and simple.
Even last year, when I was having chemotherapy, and feeling like death warmed up, I dragged myself out to the shops, heaving bags around, clutching lists, fretting. There was no need.
People weren’t touched by my efforts. Actually, they were slightly horrified. The reason Christmas Day can be so grumpy is that people make too much effort, then get resentful when it is not appreciated enough, as if it ever could be.
People always joke about how the children got more fun from the box the present came in. But, a number of times I’ve had to actually think up an unrequested “big present” for my children, when they’d have been happy with something pretty modest. What idiocy. A celebration had become a test, a quite unnecessary one only I knew the questions or answers to, or even cared what they were.
During the boom, when people were maxing out their credit cards all year round, and drinking champagne because it was Friday night, it was hard to make Christmas special. On the contrary, hanging out with your family, when there was all that fun to be had out in the non-stop partying, big-wide world, seemed specially inconvenient, self-denying and dull. It was a mad time, really, that 20-year period of illusory plenty, in which a lot of perspective was lost, and a lot of simple pleasures were mocked. But relaxing, playing a few board games and watching a bit of telly after a nice meal, all in the company of the people who mean the most to you – what, really, could be nicer, or more easy to organise? Christmas is a grim time for people who have no family, or have no money. What’s really telling, however, is how little it’s enjoyed by so many people who have both. That’s a shame. Season’s greetings.
Courtesy: The Guardian, London