I am ill right now, so please excuse any typographical errors. Hopefully I won’t have to use the word “somersaults” at any point.
I hate December. I hate Christmas. I hate illness. I hate the fact that everyone gets the cold at this point of the year. I hate sneezing. I hate when my lungs are all fluidy. I hate having to blow my nose. I hate the entire concept of nose blowing. I hate the oversaturation of my nasal mucous membranes. I hate having to steal my mum’s prescription medication because I don’t have any of my own. I hate having to ask if I had dinner or not because I don’t have any recollection either way. I hate not having a sense of taste. I hate idiot people having Christmas nights out that I have to serve. I hate my Joe-job. I hate Christmas songs ringing around my head like tinnitus for four weeks straight*. I hate having to do so much work at uni and get no return because I can’t get anything published. I hate snow. I hate frost. I hate cars. I hate wine. I hate the entire concept of food. I hate Santa Clause. I am the holiday nazi.
*Except for that Slade one. That song rocks on its own merits. And the John and Yoko song. That one’s good too. And Wizzard to an extent. And Joni’s River, because, well, any excuse for Joni. But the rest of them are just fucking ANNOYING.
My dad is coming to Scotland for whatever reason in a week’s time (I can’t remember the exact date because my brain is covered in mucous and general malaise), and I am not looking forward to seeing him. I still have this ridiculous peroxide ginger hair dye that he will not be happy about. It’s probably the peroxide’s fault that I am ill. I should have paid attention when the colouring instructions said: “do not snort powder”.
Anyway, engaging with capitalism. In real life, I play the role of the Christmas cynic seen in the vast majority of American television programmes, used as a foil to all the other still-enchanted and unquestioning characters: the clichéd Lisa Simpson holiday-pessimist to xmas-optimists Bart, Homer and Marge.
I think there is a real pressure to be individual. This overused character is made to look like an outsider to the rest of the group; yet because there is an onslaught of characters playing this cookie-cutter role in so many different series, it becomes in itself a cliché. The more I think of it, I have been playing the role of a stroppy teenage girl: beyond Lisa, the obvious examples are Darlene from Roseanne and Daria.
I make my feelings known to everyone who will and will not listen: Christmas is all about spending money and disgusting advertising. About buying crap to show face, to keep up with the Joneses, without actually caring about what you’re buying as long as it costs enough. To engage in the most awkward minefield of social graces that has carried over from the last century.
Not that I disagree with the modern, capitalist ideals of Christmas completely: I do like buying presents for friends, and put a lot of effort – if not a lot of money – into finding things they will really like. I am genuinely looking forward to giving presents to my friends from work and disparate other areas of life via two separate Secret Santa draws.
I think the USP of my version of Christmas-pessimism compared to that of my fictional counterparts is that I do not follow the hardline Nancy Hayton from Hollyoaks model. There are benefits to buying presents for people, of course, but I think there is too much unnecessary pressure to buy the right thing, from the right place, at the right price, at the right time. I am traditionally a December 24th buyer, but I do it well. I don’t panic. I don’t let pressure get to me. And I never spend more than a fiver.
I won’t even proselytise because my entire opinion has been given before in more eloquent/ humourous/ aggravating/ insipid /insightful /childlike /realistic* terms by the many, many televised Christmas-pessimists who have gone before, from Hey Arnold to Zebedee. Probably.
*Delete as appropriate
This idea of Christmas cynicism and the aversion to capitalist ideals has got me thinking more clearly about why students are likely to have left-wing tendancies than those further up the hegemonic food chain. Students – like myself – are likely to have part time jobs – like myself – while being bombarded by the education system with theories and models of capitalist society. Being used to do “dirty work” for someone with money is far more transparent as a student in a Joe-job; whereas higher up, a worker will feel less expendable since they are doing something meaningful, instead of mixing pre-mixed drinks.
There is also the distinction between doing this mindless part-time job which requires no mental or creative input for very small return; and writing pieces of work which are far more relevant to one’s future but getting no return on them whatsoever.
I see a lot of millionaires at work – the capitalist dream in action – who spend a lot of money to be served by nonchalant waiters and barmen such as myself, yet they are deeply unhappy at this peak of society. Surely there must be something more to find real contentment. Let’s add “I hate money” to that list above.
I realise as well that as soon as I get somewhere with my career, I will perhaps buy into this capitalist ideal, succumb to greed and number crunching; but hopefully have been able to achieve some semblance of satisfaction with my life. I always think life will be easier when I have a decent job, but I am beginning to question how much of this is true, and how much is simply an uphill struggle towards an invisible, impossible ideal.