‘some girls are bright as the morning, and some girls are blessed with a dark turn of mind’ – Gillian Welch
Before I steal myself to face the cold and the crowds, and do my Christmas food shopping, I thought I’d pause and wish you all, my long-suffering readers and friends, a very merry Christmas.
I quite like the festive period in the UK, tat, tack, manic consumerism, cholesterol overdoses and all. I enjoy planning a meal, thinking about what presents to give, drinking alcohol as if it’s my vocation. It is a fine balance though, between genuine indulgence and – yes – joy, and forced, painful jollity. I have nearly been pushed over the edge into bah humbug mode once or twice already this year, by ridiculous Christmas jumpers taking over London, by nearly fainting in a particularly claustrophobic shopping centre (Yes, Birmingham Bull Ring, I’m looking at you), and by the sorry sight of my bank balance, buckling under the strain.
However, I’ve rallied myself, put the tree up, wrapped gifts, played Just Like Christmas by Low to death, started drinking for real, this time. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
One thing I’ve learned over the years about myself, that Christmas puts into sharp relief, is that it’s ok not to be the jolliest, happiest, most fun person in the room. I have found I’m more able to enjoy life, even at its most tinselly, when I accept my limitations, including my slightly dour side, that I share with most of my dear family. As I have said in a recent post, I’m even getting more realistic about friendships and romantic relationships, and it’s making me – shock horror! – happier.
And even Christmas culture offers some beautifully bitter-sweet gems for us to enjoy. It’s not all jingle bells, Michael Macintyre and cheap sherry. Pondering very briefly (I really must face that shopping), I am reminded of brilliant, sad-but-happy films such as Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life that go very well with a whisky or two late on boxing day.
As a young woman I tended to veer towards the all or nothing, Morrissey-loving miserabilist stance in relation to Christmas and possibly life in general. These days I think I’m able to embrace the good stuff, the giggles and the twinkling lights, whilst also acknowledging some poignancy, in the carols, in the faces I pass hurriedly in Asda, in my own ‘dark turn of mind’.
So Happy Christmas everyone, just be yourselves. QRG Loves You. Mine’s a G and T!