News Analysis

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Claire O’Mahony; A wonderful time – but just as well it only comes once a year

Published 24/12/2012 | 05:00

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PEEL that constrictive sequin pencil skirt off your hips. Dust the Peking duck-roll crumbs from your lips. Consign until January the conversation where you told it like it was to your co-worker at the office party. And relax . . . it's all over now – or pretty much. Truth be told, at this stage in the game, there's not much you can do to change the December 25 that lies ahead for you.

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If there are cheese boards not purchased, cards not sent and stocking fillers forgotten about, so be it. It's all in the hands of the gods now.

The festive season is said to be one of the most stressful times of the year, ranking somewhere after death, divorce, moving house and trying to find an outfit on a fat day. And almost every one appreciates that it's not the day itself that's actually the most stressful, but the build up to it and the planning that goes into it.

Have you missed the last date for posting something to the sister in Australia? What do you get for the office Kris Kindle? How did you manage to commit yourself to three different social engagements on the one evening? Why is Marks and Spencer sold out of those slippers with a special sole that your father specifically requested?

And why does a particular breed of person who appears to be using an ATM machine for the very first time always manage to get in front of you in the queue come yuletide?

That's all behind us now. Tomorrow promises a more indolent state of existence, one that is filled with constant grazing, made-for-TV movies and restorative walks of no more than 200 metres which are really only a token nod towards exercise.

The real meaning of Christmas is the lie-ins, tins of USA biscuits and the elevation of doing feck-all into an art form. If the theme tune pre-December 25 is Slade banging out 'Merry Christmas Everybody', the day itself is more the warm, enveloping comfort and joy of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', sung by Bing Crosby.

Not to suggest that tomorrow is going to be tension free, because of course it's not. Christmas en famille can see fortysomethings revert to a Kevin-the-teenager state, and emotions can run high over board games, especially when an ill-advised amount of cream liqueur has been drunk. Chronic indigestion post-lunch does nobody's mood any favours, while arguments over which early evening film to watch will occur the length and breadth of the country.

Mutinies may also arise when it transpires that someone has emptied the last tube of Pringles and there could be unspoken resentment when someone receives a badly wrapped present worth approximately €10 in return for their offering on which they spent ten times more and had gift-wrapped in Brown Thomas.

Then there's the slight panic that sets in after too much eating, drinking and spending, followed by the feeling of empowerment that an overly ambitious and frankly unrealistic set of New Year's resolutions gives. It's the necessary purge after the Christmas binge.

So yay for Christmas – it is the most wonderful time of the year. But perhaps we should be grateful that it is only an annual occurrence.

Irish Independent

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