Tuesday 17 September 2019

John Masterson: 'Only two more sleeps to Santa... I can't wait'

Stock photo: Getty Images
Stock photo: Getty Images

John Masterson

I have confused feelings about Christmas. I love the lights and the glitz and the shopping and the presents. I like seeing reindeer flying up the walls of houses during these long dark days. We give and get extra hugs this time of year. It all puts people in a good mood. We have time to catch up with people whom we have barely seen during the year. We make the annual pledge to meet more next year. It probably won't happen.

I hate Christmas Carols, each and every one of them with their infantile words. And I get peeved by the people who go on about the increased commercialism of Christmas and losing the real meaning and so on. For many of us there is no real meaning. It is a festive holiday. As a lifelong atheist I have not been in a church at Christmas since I was about 10. Yet I dislike the politically correct "Happy Holidays" nonsense. It is Christmas and a religious holiday in the Western World that got a big boost when Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843.

I love hearing Fairytale of New York and always turn it up loud. I like the full version and couldn't care less about the people who wake up each morning deciding what to be offended by. I have a soft spot for Do They Know It's Christmas? as well, along with Wonderful Christmas Time and even Slade. I really do not have a lot of redeeming features!

There are lots of things that we could do any time of the year but for some reason we keep them for Christmas. This is particularly the case with food. It is the one time of the year when I will eat an entire Terry's Chocolate Orange, probably before I get out of bed. I salivate thinking about a chilled sparkling white wine (we gave up wasting money on Champagne years ago) with smoked salmon. I adore the dark moist meat of the turkey and will probably eat an entire leg while feeling sorry for my vegan relatives. I will demolish copious quantities of Neven Maguire's Auntie Maureen's Christmas pudding covered with obscene quantities of whipped cream. It will be followed by an Irish coffee, and I probably won't have another one until next Christmas.

Christmas is a wonderful lazy time. It is a holiday where you don't have to do day trips, or swim three times, climb a mountain or jump in a lake to justify your existence and the amount of money you spent getting there. You don't have to do Instagrams which I think are the modern equivalent of postcards, but don't waste any paper or trees.

Christmas Day is also the occasion of the best sleep of the year. All round the world, about an hour after the meal, over-fed men have their heads back on the couch and their hands folded over their protruding bellies. These creatures do not have a care in the world and children should not photograph them if they have their mouth open.

I intend waking from this most perfect of sleeps just in time for whatever film has been selected for the night. I will have room for a minced pie, my feet up, a Fireball in my hand (if you haven't discovered this wonderful cinnamon-flavoured whiskey do yourself a favour) and every muscle in my body perfectly relaxed, and be secretly relieved that Christmas comes but once a year.

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