THE HIGHS & LOWS OF CHRISTMAS

If you were to play a word association game, and someone shouted out ‘CHRISTMAS!’, the word most people would probably shout back in return would be, ‘JOY!’ or ‘HAPPINESS!’, however, I am here to argue that this is a common misconception. I mean, you might subliminally know the words to the majority of your Spotify Christmas Playlist, but have you ever actually listened to the lyrics? Well, deck the halls with antidepressants because here’s a compiled list of the 22 Saddest Christmas Songs of ALL time*.

(FYI – my top three saddest Christmas songs are Christmas Lights by Coldplay, Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Last Christmas by Wham incase you need to update your Christmas soundtrack with some tragedy).

I’m sorry, but if Christmas truly was such a happy and harmonious time, then why are there so many well known and loved festive sad songs? (Though, I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that despite me going on about how sad Christmas songs are, when it gets to December first, they’re pretty much the only songs I listen to until New Year… just ask my long suffering flatmates who have to listen to a tone deaf me belt out ‘Last Christmas’ on the daily).

Anyway, the point of this post is that it’s the 16th of December and why aren’t I jumping for joy that yet another festive season has descended upon us? It’s the month of indulgence where you can supposedly eat and do whatever you like without the guilt – I mean, it’s only acceptable in December that we kick off the day with a chocolate window for breakfast. By the time December 25th lands, I’m kicking off the day with a glass of bubbles and a tub of Roses – start as you mean to go on and all that! Because let’s face it, food guilt isn’t the only guilt that engulfs us over the holidays.

Let’s list the various types of holiday guilt:

  • The Christmas Dinner
    • The dreaded question, “What are you doing for Christmas dinner this year?” translates to, “You will be coming here, yes?” A heavy-weight type of guilt especially reserved for those with divorced parents, from single parent families, and couples who’s respective parents both demand that they’re each present with their own families on the big day. This type of guilt can rear it’s head as early as late October, and is the root of many a festive family feud. So far, I’ve already heard of two instances where my friends have decided to forgo choosing, and have opted to stay home in pjs with their other half instead.
  • One Sided Gift Guilt
    • “I thought we’d agreed not to do gifts this year!?” Awkward for all parties involved… There’s always one person who STILL insists on buying you a ‘little’ something despite you both agreeing not to, and then you feel like an absolute Scrooge because you followed the protocol and didn’t buy any gifts. Which brings us on to…
  • Budget Blowout Guilt
    • It’s no secret that Christmas is financially draining, and one has to budget accordingly. “I’m skint this year! Let’s set a budget. What about we only spend £20?” (that’s 100AED for my non brit and expat friends). So, you shop around and find the best budget gift, only to feel absolutely mortified when upon exchanging gifts, your proposed parcel looks pretty measly in comparison to their significantly larger one. It becomes quite apparent that they blew the budget out of the water, and seeing your embarrassment, the exchanging of the gifts is met with proclamations of, ‘it doesn’t matter!’ and that they ‘just wanted to spoil you!’.  Next thing you know, you’re questioning how kind and giving a person you really are – I mean you could have potentially stretched the budget too, if only you hadn’t treated yourself to those shoes that you bought while shopping for the aforementioned gift… Pass the gin. In fact, make it a double.
  • Christmas Party Guilt
    • I was having dinner with some friends last weekend, when the table next to us showed up for their annual Office Party. While we were watching them all getting more and more pissed, and reminiscing about parties of Christmases past, one friend said, “I miss having an office party.” and of course we all agreed, but come to think of it, the annual work’s Christmas party was always followed by the APF. That stands for the ‘After Party Fear’, which is basically my completely made up term for the combination of dread, guilt and hangover that engulfs everyone the day after your work’s party. When you think about it, the work party is actually the one day of the year where you’re forced to socialise with people whom under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t see outside of the office hours. In fact, the everyday conversation amongst the majority of collegaues doesn’t usually expand outside the realm of shop talk – God know’s where the conversation might lead to after a few gins or if you actually have anything to talk about at all. The build up to the office party usually starts in October when everyone excitedly discusses the venue and what meal choice they’ll choose from the festive set menu. By the time it get’s to mid November, everyone’s forgotten what they ordered and the girls start talking about what outfit they’ll wear. It’s usually a velvet or sparkly slinky number – a decision which everyone comes to regret as the party approaches. They realise they’ve eaten too many strawberry ones from that tub of Quality Street that been floating around the office and the dress is now a little slinkier than it was originally intended to be… So, naturally, everyone now feeling self conscious that their chosen dress is too tight and slutty to wear to the Office party (because Creepy Dean from marketing keeps leering over) and at a loss about what to talk about, hits the mulled wine hard, and before you know it, Julie from accounts who’s married, is launching herself at Derek from finance who’s half her age and goes out with Sharon from reception. Now everyone has something to talk to each other about on Monday! Maybe it’s not such a bad thing we don’t have an office party after all!
  • Guilt reserved only for expats
    • Like the office party planning, the messages from home start rolling in early. “Will you be home for Christmas this year?”; “But you didn’t come home last year.” and so, despite your bank balance already in dire straits from purchasing overpriced gifts, you end up booking a return ticket home for the holidays, where you will then be expected to cram in two weeks worth of family and festive activities within five days. You’ll still be made to feel guilty despite managing to catchup with two dozen of your nearest and dearest when you miss someone out due to conflicting schedules.
  • Mistletoe Guilt
    • I asked a few of my friends what they consider to be the highs and lows of Christmas. “Personally, I always end up kissing some random from the past in a very public place… like in the pub on Christmas Eve, because at Christmas you get all sad that you’re single and start reminiscing. Then, you randomly bump into someone you knew from when you were younger and you just decide it’s a good idea to rekindle that flame.” She isn’t the only one that said this by the way. I think it might actually be a thing – that people feel lonelier at Christmas. Someone obviously cottoned on and decided to promote mistletoe until it became the official sponsor of festive fumbles. How to avoid mistletoe guilt? Stay home eating mince pies and wear ugly pyjamas. A onesie is a good place to start. It’s unattractive and also distracts you from…
  • Food Guilt
    • This type of  Christmas guilt, is the one that I personally find most relatable. When other people associate JOY with Christmas, I am over here associating it with every type of food group instead. Baileys; mince pies; turkey; cranberries; tangerines; sprouts; chocolate coins; gravy; you name it, and the calories don’t feel as naughty at Christmas. Gingerbread latte’s with whipped cream on the daily just because it’s Christmas and shopping for presents is tiring – yanno? One friend told me, “I once ate so much food at Christmas dinner, that my mum had to rub my back for me while I lay groaning on the couch. I had the worst trapped wind ever.” By the time you reach the new year, the only thing that actually fits you are the pyjamas that Santa so kindly bought you. That man know’s all about carrying some extra festive kilos after having a biscuit and a bev in every single house he visits.
  • New Year Guilt
    • In amongst catching up with all your old friends, an overwhelming panic starts setting in as you listen to them recount their successes and achievements over the past year. So and so has had a baby, the other friend got married, one got engaged and another just bought a new house (probably outright, in cash). As you gulp your gin, you beam enthusiastically whilst frantically racking your brains for your own annual achievement to share, but all you can think of is that you adopted a cat, went to the gym a few more times than the year before and moved to a slightly less crap apartment. Must. Try. Harder.

It’s came up in discussion a lot this week – why does no-one really admit that Christmas is such a tough time of year? We drew some conclusions.

Christmas is vastly improved in the following circumstances;

  1. You have small children in your family who believe in Santa and all his magic.
  2. You’re in a couple.

And Christmas is always going to be a little bit shit if;

  1. You’re single (cue every single year someone asking you if Santa left you a boyfriend under the tree this year. Ha. HA. HA.)
  2. You’re skint.
  3. You’re living away from home and the people you love.

But it’s a good thing to remember, that Christmas IS JUST A DAY. And the most fun part is the run up to Christmas. The part where you can turn on cute fairy lights every night as you watch TV. The part where you can wear hideous jumpers and lounge in pjs eating chocolate every night. The part where it’s completely acceptable to open a little chocolate box at breakfast every morning. The part where you can spend time with friends and family who you don’t often get to see. The part where you can sing cheesy songs without being slated for your poor music taste. The part where you can consume epic proportions of food and drink without anyone judging you for it. The part where you can shop ’til your heart’s content. The part where you can write a little list of gift ideas. The part where you can do silly things like ice skate and swap presents for secret Santa.

And then before you know it, one day you will be the one talking about your year’s achievements, buying extra little gifts and doing those smug festive couple things. And in the meantime, theres always GIN.

So come let us adore gin and get through the festive season together.

Merry Christmas!

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PS.

In all truthfulness, this year, I’m most looking forward to opening presents spending time with my family at home, and going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

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