Personally speaking, it’s been quite a strange and difficult couple of weeks – an intense couple of months, even. A very unique year – that’s certainly true. A dear relative was lost, various other important and pivotal once-in-a-life-time things have happened in not just my own life, but the lives of several of my family and friends, and, all in all, a time for celebration it has felt like not (that’s putting it mildly, actually. For a good few months, the idea of celebrating has made me feel sick, and I’ve even occasionally not felt like writing, which is very unusual indeed).
Yet I still find myself smiling, thinking about how utterly fortunate I am – for my lovely girlfriend and spectacular friends and family – knowing that it could easily be plenty worse. That when I was born, there was far more chance that I wouldn’t have the life I have than how it turned out in the end (I don’t mean to say that the family I was born into was a bit of a nightmare, because that’s not true. Not at all. I just mean it in a general, geographical sense). I prefer to say fortunate rather than lucky – when I think about luck I inevitably think of both good luck and bad luck, whereas when fortune comes to mind, I think only about the over-riding positive things which are there no matter what comes and goes through the years. The freedom to walk down the street, the choice to decide when I go out and who my friends are. Twix or Mars bar, that kind of thing (Twix. Definitely Twix. Two-for-one – how can you argue with that logic? Well, that’s if they haven’t got Wispa…). How I don’t get hassled going about my business, unlike many perfectly legal immigrants who are trying to make an honest living in this country and constantly find themselves coming up against enormous difficulties – police harassment, cultural and racial issues – which most of us simply wouldn’t be able to cope with. Using toilet paper which leaves me feeling content, even (if UK bought economy toilet paper is bad news for your bum-hole, then how bad is it in a city where supplies are seriously limited? Not good news for run-ragged anal fissures, acquired from diarrhoea triggered by poorly sanitized water, surely). Basic things which rarely seem like true privileges, yet can only be viewed in this manner when set against the contrasting realities of those living in numerous other countries out there.
Now stop imagining and wondering about anal fissures. I wish I’d never mentioned it. But do feel privileged.
My brother, sister and I have always had the option to ask for what we’d like as Christmas presents (that’s got to be a good way to get us off the subject of those pesky anal fissures, hasn’t it?). Something that’s certainly not unique and something that takes the piss, when you stop and think about it. That’s got to be another massive Western privilege, am I right? This year, I didn’t ask for anything in particular, and I have to say that it felt slightly strange. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything I really wanted – I can always think of plenty of things I’d really like – and it wasn’t that this was the way I deliberately planned it, either. In truth, the events I mentioned at the start of this blog post distracted me from being a self-indulgent gift-seeking bastard, and selfishly imagining what I might like didn’t feel like much of a priority – but don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back to my usual self next year. It was probably a good thing, I am now fairly sure, even if not asking for specific things eventually reveals itself to be one almighty downfall. Being able to select exactly what you want for Christmas every year seems pretty gruesome and wrong and monstrous when you write it down, I have just discovered. I think this year, I’ll be happy with surprises. Even though it feels like I’ve had far too many already. But still.
I also haven’t seen Home Alone once in the last week, which is more than a little unsettling. I mean, I’ve always loved watching Home Alone at Christmas time. A bit of Macauley Culkin? Go on then (what the fuck are the TV people playing at, really? Where has Home Alone been? Or did I just miss it? I hope not). The weather, too, has let both children and adults down. Stupid weather! Instead of a white Christmas, or even the vague threat of a white Christmas – almost as good, it has to be said, because half the fun is waiting for the snow to arrive, and adults who drive cars prefer the threat much more than the actual delivery – we’re presently enduring a storm which is making thousands of UK homes without power. One of those dull storms which doesn’t do a lot other than be miserable. No internet, no phone lines, no TV – at least in certain places. The only people who are winning are those with battery-powered Gameboys – they’re all powered by batteries, by the way, I just said that to emphasise my point – and, I hate to say it, those American freaks on US TV channels who are constantly preparing for the end of the world (I always knew they were on to something). There couldn’t be a worse time for this to happen, could there? (The only thing worse than missing Home Alone at Christmas time in the UK is having the ability to watch it at all entirely taken away from you). Then again, in our country, the phone lines get fixed reasonably quickly and internet is never down for long. Home Alone, too, is often repeated numerous times, even when you think you’ve missed it. And once it all gets fixed, we know we’ll be OK for a while. No rebels are going to come along any time soon with machine guns and wipe out any of our people, after all. So maybe we should just think ourselves very lucky.
And now this blog post is in danger of becoming one big preaching session. Bollocks. That’s frustrating. Frustrational – there, I invented that just then, and I like that better. I hate the idea of people out there thinking that, almost as much as I love the idea of Frustrational catching on as a new word attributed to me. Still, we are lucky to have choices and families and the option to be able to engineer how happy we are through the Christmas period. The option to Google anal fissures – don’t – and buy the kind of luxurious toilet paper that costs as much as a whole African village’s supply of monthly food. We’re lucky to have a Christmas period at all. Because some of us can be pretty fucking pathetic, starting with me. Just the other day, for example, I walked into the living room and started complaining about how it was cold. It wasn’t cold, not really. I was just being a stupid arsehole. With my Breaking Bad box-set less than fifteen-feet away and a week of freedom from work approaching, I felt like slapping myself, and would have done, if I’d have thought it might have any effect. But I just couldn’t help myself, could I? Less than ten Western minutes later I was moaning once again, if only inside my own consciousness where nobody else could witness its feebleness. This time it was about our internet connection, which was making life difficult by being really slow. The pages were taking as long as 3 seconds to appear in full right there on my screen. And now my consciousness no longer feels like the isolated void of freedom that it once did.
Another thing: I hate this whole Christmas is shit thing that some people have going on, I really do. Lighten-up. It’s not shit. It really isn’t. Even if you think it’s shit because you hate how commercial it’s all become, how trapped we all are in this one particular way, it’s good to have a few days off work and be able to ruthlessly self-indulge. It’s good, so enjoy it. Force yourself, if you have to. Even if you did leave it too late to order your Christmas presents. But then, there’s always the sales…
Turkey? Loads of booze? Sugary things, laughter, family and crap TV? Del Boy, falling through the bar, forever and ever, so we can’t forget it. I miss my Nan and I don’t really feel like celebrating and it doesn’t feel right to not have freezing-cold weather, but still, it’s Christmas, and I plan to bloody well enjoy myself, and force everybody else to, if it comes down to it. To notice and embrace the small things. My small moment on this planet. I’ll even wear my Christmas hat, even though my head is always too big for it.