Monday, 6 December 2010

On Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come

The fact that I have never read any of Charles Dickens' work has always been a source of shame for me. I've often felt that, as a British person with an appreciation of classic literature, it was nothing less than my civic duty to at least get to grips with his most famous works, if not immerse myself in his entire bibliography. And how better to start than with A Christmas Carol, at the time when the country is at its peak of festive merriment? So that's what I've been reading today. I know the story, of course - the Muppets taught me well - and the more i read the more I'm impressed with the timelessness of the lessons it contains.

This morning it seemed terribly apt. The snow has mostly melted, leaving the pavements covered in almost invisible patches of treacherous black ice. It was bitterly cold, and a dense freezing fog hung over the City, obscuring from view the top of the Gherkin and its new, and marginally taller, skyscraping neighbour. As Scrooge made his lonely way home through strikingly similar atmospheric conditions at the beginning of the story, so I scurried (and slid) my way to the office.

And as Scrooge ignored the pleas of two men seeking donations for the poor, so I avoid making eye contact with the people collecting for charities who camp outside Kings Cross, snaring unsuspecting commuters in their guilt-laced webs. It would seem then, that not so much has changed. Perhaps I'm not so different from Ebenezer. If this is indeed the case, then in what form would the spirits of my three Christmases appear?

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST. I have perfected the art of holding a grudge, of clinging onto regret and embarrassment far longer than is necessary. From the Christmas Day I shot my mum in the face with a toy gun that propelled foam balls in whichever direction I pointed it (while shouting 'I'm not spoilt!') to the accidental flash in front of my cousin, my past Christmases have been full of moments I'd rather forget. Of course there have been happy times, too. They were predominantly happy, in fact. But it's the humiliations and awkwardness of my past that stay with me and colour my current outlook on life the most. My ghost of Christmas Past would be an amalgamation of all of these - the jokes gone too far, the drinks I really shouldn't have accepted, the tantrums and bouts of ingratitude. I was a snivelling child and a terrible teen for which I'll be eternally embarrassed - but these things have played a part in making me who I am.

Well, that was grim. But fear not - 'tis the season to be jolly after all and my CHRISTMAS PRESENT is a bloody jolly place. You see, I've learned from the past and used it to my advantage. I'm a better person, capable of thoughtful gifts and hiding the slightest trace of 'what were you thinking?' when I get presents I don't like. I've found a place and personality that I'm comfortable with and I've banished the majority of the demons that plagued me as I grew up. At the moment, I'm so chilled I put that icy pavement to shame.

And so to CHRISTMAS YET TO COME. It's hard to say what future yuletides will bring but in order to end this post in a way that reflects the unusual sense of optimism I'm currently enjoying, I'll stick to what I want and not what is definitely achievable. Some of you may already know that I'm yearning to move out. There are circumstances that prevent this at the moment, but one Christmas Day I'd like to wake up in a house of my own. I'd like to repay the favour so many have shown me. To cook Christmas Dinner for everyone that matters to me, maybe. A small thank you to the ever-patient family and friends who have stuck with me for so many years - through the bad, through the good and right up to the perfect. A bit ambitious, perhaps. Not least because I can barely cook a microwave meal, let alone a turkey.

But anyway, I hereby swear that, this year, there will be no bah humbugging from me.


  1. This reminds me of your GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT:

  2. I've only ever read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and none of his other work. Our 5th grade teacher tried to get us to read Oliver Twist, I don't know what she was thinking. Personally, I think Dickens is kinda boring. He wrote really long books because he got paid by the word. That should be a clue that he drags everything out.

  3. I think Great Expectations was a good read. And the Muppets Christmas Carol??? Hells yes! My parents taped that off TV on a VHS when I was little, and I watched it until it deteriorated. I hope your Christmas this year doesn't provide any more awkwardness or humiliation :)

  4. I love this resolution. But Christmas isn't complete without someone bah humbugging.

    Well, okay, I'll do it. :p

    Please tell me how to hide the "what were you thinking" face when I get presents I don't like. I'm serious.

  5. I look forward to reading about your Christmases to come. And when it does finally arrive in the form that you dream of, I will raise a glass of eggnog and pull on a cracker for you.

  6. i LOVE the Muppet Christmas Carol! It's my fave!

    Also, I can totally understand your Christmas past.
    Personally, I still hate the holidays. It'll be nice to read of someone who has hated them but has come to accept them. Maybe I can learn a thing or two.

  7. As a writer and avid reader, it always bites me that I have yet to read A Christmas Carol.

    Muppet Christmas Carol however does rock my socks off. Michael Caine + Muppets = EPIC.

  8. "the drinks I really shouldn't have accepted"
    I feel your pain there, mate. I once 'ruined New Year' for an entire group of friends - their words, not mine. I say friends; I guess ex-friends would be more appropriate, since for some reason I don't see them much anymore. I'd like to think that that particular Ghost of Xmas Past (I'm being all modern and cool, 'x' is a cool letter, right?) has taught me my lesson.

  9. @ Allison - that's it! 2:04 cracked me up. I'm going to copy that reaction in future.

    @ theTsaritsa - I don't know. Christmas Carol was brilliant, but short. I'll read a few more and get back to you!

    @ k-money - there was much humiliation. I think I'm going to post on it though, but - in brief - I was sick on the back of my dad's head. Embarrassment ensued.

    @ Gnetch - I can't describe it. Buy me something horrible and I'll show you.

    @ Risha - you'll be invited to the party, innit. I'll pull the other end of the cracker. Lol.

    @ tallbrunette - I watched three times this Christmas. Do you think I overdid it? No, is my response. It only got better. And better. And so much better.

    @ Tabs - I felt the same, I thought I should read it. However, I found it hard to banish Kermit the Frog from my imagination.

    @ leavespaceblank - it sounds like you really do feel my pain. I accepted a fair few more drinks than I should have last week - obviously the whole 'learning from my mistakes' thing was complete bollocks.