Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas

I've been wanting to write a post about the C-word for a while.  I'll 'fess up right now and say that it's a hard time of year for me and the things that usually help me through life's hard times just don't work.  (And that's code for, I become a miserable, morose grump.)  It happens every year but it always hits me as if it's brand new.  The fact that it happens in winter as well is just a happy coincidence.

Because my family is scattered between two continents and most of my closest, oldest friends are living in other countries, this time of year always emphasises and heightens the distance and aloneness that, at other times, I am able to tolerate and cope with.  The last two years have been unexpectedly bearable cos we had some lovely neighbours over on Christmas Day.  They were also far from their own families and we got on well.  But they moved away this year.  Plus, this is gonna be the first time trying to negotiate Christmas as a "broken family."  Even without that though, I think it is a hard time for a lot of people, for all kinds of reasons.  But there is a prevailing sense that you're not supposed to talk about that.  What you're supposed to do is put on your false cheer face and grin and bear it.  Otherwise people call you Scrooge or a Grinch or take delight in shouting Ba Humbug! at you.  And it's supposed to be funny.  Well it isn't.  And sometimes, even when I try my damndest, it don't help.  Today for instance, I actually woke up chirpy.  Yes, you heard right. I woke up positive and determined to make the most of things.  Then I took Jake to Sainsbury's.

Christmas is a whole 9 days away, and yet, people are out shopping like the apocalypse is coming.  Sainsbury’s on a Thursday morning is not normally rammed.  Today it was.  After managing to manoeuvre Jake in the buggy, laden with a basket and carrying a 20 litre bag of cat litter past ridiculously long checkout queues populated with the most sullen people on earth, I get to the relatively clear self-checkout area, and wait behind the person who is just finishing off their checking out.  I’m just about to plonk the massive bag of cat litter on the little shelf next to the check out I’m about to use when a woman holding three small (not 20, 10 or even 1 litre) bags of vegetables and who had just gotten in the queue behind me, plonks them there instead. 

“I know you’re ahead of me in the queue," she said, "I just want to put my stuff here.”

For the purposes of veracity, I'd just like to point out that she is no older than me, able-bodied and in possession of both her arms and all her digits.  Anyhooooo....

She then turns to my gobsmacked face, frowns and says, “What?  I’m not trying to cut ahead of you, I just want to put my stuff there.”

I said, “Yes, I was just wondering where I’m going to put MY stuff.”

“Well," she said, "all you had to do was say if you want to put your stuff there, why do you have to make that face?!” !!!!!!!

I surprised myself by saying, “Because I have feelings and don’t like being harassed.”

She then put her hands on her hips and said, “All I wanted to do was put my things there, you don’t have to make that face at me.”

I’m not a fan of confrontation.  Plus I was sweating and knackered and my arm was about to fall off from holding the fucking giant bag of cat litter.  I didn't have the energy for a pointless argument so I decided it would be easier to join another queue.  I started to do so and she actually HAD A GO AT ME!

“Hey, I told you I didn’t want to cut in front of you, I just wanted…”

So I snapped.  “Look, I don’t need this right now okay?  I have a child in a buggy and heavy shit to carry so please, go ahead, put your stuff there.  I’m going to join another queue.”

As soon as I did so, the bleedin’ woman grabbed her three bags of veg in a huff and buggered off.  

The moral of the story is, (cos don't Christmas stories always have to have a moral): Sometimes, even when you get what you want, you still ain't happy.  And that just about sums up Christmas.

There are 10 days to go till it's over.  Will there be a happier ending to this story?  Anything could happen, but don't hold your breath.  And let's not forget the delightful arse-twitchery of New Year's Eve to look forward to. 

If you were looking for something more warm and fuzzy, you can try the usual channels.  There's more than enough of that stuff out there.  <Ba Humbug>

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