Friday 19 April 2019

Christmas! It's just what I always wanted

John Masterson

It is the time of Christmas cheer, a time that is punctuated by Christmas parties, where much of that cheer can be punctured by the presence in the room of people who we do not like.

That may be putting it mildly.

These are the people who you avoid as much as possible during the year and now face the possibility of having to share a mince pie with them while wearing a silly jumper, secure in the knowledge that you are not on their Christmas card list either.

In my view hypocrisy is very underrated. As are white lies.

It is also that time of year that people feel the need to meet their relatives.

We choose our friends but we do not choose our relatives. I think I can safely say that everyone has a relative that they cannot stand, and who they will only see at weddings, funerals or Christmas. To further complicate matters, some of our perfectly acceptable relations make the mistake of falling in love with, and marrying, truly unspeakable people.

They may even go on to have objectionable children. Yes. Christmas poses difficulties.

So what to do?

The office party is the easier of the two. Make sure you go with one of your friends. That is the easy part. Then talk to as many people as you can in an hour without having a drink. That is the slightly harder part. By that time you can slip away without being noticed, and, being sober, you will not have said anything you regret or will ever need to apologise for. Being sober, you will also not have foolishly made up with anyone who in reality you much prefer to detest. Or attempted to make out with people who are off limits. Then repair to a hostelry a safe distance away and party to your heart's content with people you actually enjoy.

The relations are more difficult. You cannot spend all of Christmas on your guard. It is not a time for refusing every drink, particularly as many of you have been virtuous all through November just so you could indulge during Christmas.

Only a saint will get through Christmas without loosening their tongue at some stage.

I know with certainty that I could not do it. At the very least you will get caught gossiping behind the unpleasant relative's back.

Worse still, the children will begin a sentence with the phrase "Mammy said", or "Daddy said" and all of your impeccable adult behaviour is wasted.

I have been surprised by how many people this year have admitted to me that they hate Christmas. Most cited the above scenarios in their explanation.

It makes you wonder why Chris Rea's Driving Home For Christmas is the soundtrack of December. If I remember it correctly he is stuck in a traffic jam as he sings. That would be enough to put me in bad humour for the first 24 hours. And then I know I would argue to the death about what time was best to open presents. The answer is Christmas Eve. And I would throw a strop at whoever cheated at Scrabble or Monopoly. This rule does not apply to me. With all that going on I might not have time to rehearse my present-opening face.

If you want to have a happy Christmas the first thing to do in the morning when you are brushing your teeth is practice your "Just what I always wanted", lines.

Sunday Independent

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