YULETIDE FELICITATIONS TO YOU, MOST CHRISTMASSY LISTENERS!!
The season of goodwill and gastronomic assault is upon us, the fairy lights are twinkling, the crooners are crooning, the kids are wetting themselves with excitement that Father Christmas is going to shower them with gifts, and the grown-ups are wetting themselves with fear that the tree is too big, the turkey is too small and the bank account is empty – which begs the important seasonal question: is Christmas as brilliant for grown-ups as it is for kids?
The Run-Up to Christmas
KIDS: You are in a constant frenzy and on the verge of soiling yourself. School is a dream: you spend lessons doing festive-themed wordsearches, colouring festive-themed pictures, or – and this is the most brilliant thing in the world – your teacher greets you with the words ‘I thought we’d watch a video today’, and she wheels the TV to the front of the class, shoves in a Disney film, turns off the lights, and life has never been more spectacular.
The world has become a sparkling, magical place. You are dribbling over Polly Pockets and Barbies and Lego and are hoping against hope that Father Christmas gets the letter you sent him, although you’re suspicious about the effectiveness of a postal system that involves chucking the letter up the chimney, especially as you saw said letter flutter down behind the fire grate and land amongst a load of dead woodlice, but your parents have assured you it’ll get to Lapland (wherever the hell that is. WHO CARES??) The house smells of pine, and the lounge furniture has been rearranged to make room for the Christmas tree, a necessary process which never ceases to be unfathomably thrilling.
Christmas is the best thing ever ever ever.
GROWN-UPS: Work is becoming more tolerable because all you are doing is eating Celebrations, leaving post-its on your colleague’s monitor that say ‘All I want for Christmas is… you to stop bringing in f***ing leftover chilli for lunch’, and spending days trying to cure your hangover from yet another Christmas booze-up the night before.
The world is a magical sparkly place, and you are enjoying the warm glow of lights twinkling in windows, but you are NOT enjoying the gladiatorial skirmish of Christmas shopping or the constant ejaculation of money from your purse, or the realisation that everything on your Christmas list are things you need like a new slow-cooker or a dustbuster or a nice practical desktop filing system, or the fact that you’ve done your back in rearranging the bloody lounge furniture.
WINNER: Kids. The run-up to Christmas is a parade of relentless glee, mainly founded on a shroud of lies about a mythical avuncular stranger bearing gifts, the value of which you have no concept, and life is magnificent. Grown-ups are just finding the whole thing a bit tiring.
KIDS: You have come out in prickly heat because you just cannot decide which of your phenomenal presents you are going to play with first. Will you perform an elaborate and heartwarming drama with your new Sylvanian families in your new dollshouse, involving Master Owl hiding all Mrs Badger’s silverwear under the stairs, much to the chargrin of Mrs Hedgehog the Cook? Will you construct the greatest feat of architectural mastery the Lego world has ever seen? Will you dress up your new Barbie in her sparkly ballgown that is so beautiful it is breaking your heart?
It doesn’t matter what you play with first. Because the day ahead is a neverending heaven of playing, eating, playing and playing, and you wish it could be Christmas every day.
GROWN-UPS: You are smiling politely at your new desktop filing system, and spend 49 seconds arranging it neatly on your desk. You are thrilled with your new perfume and spray it on your wrist. Then you place it back in its box. Then you flick through your new book for a bit. Words and words. Then you sniff your new bubble bath and consider how nice it will make your skin smell after your bath. Then you think you should probably clean up those pine needles under the tree with your new dustbuster, and go and put the turkey on.
WINNER: Kids again. You can play with stuff. All day. You won’t hear a grown-up gasping ‘Please can I plug in my new slow-cooker and cook something really slowly now????’
KIDS: You are astounded by the abundance of festive victuals. You haven’t had lunch yet but you are already stuffed with mini mince pies, half a chocolate reindeer, a box of peppermint creams, and all the Quality Street toffee pennies. You are beside yourself at the presence of sausages with your roast dinner. That’s like two meals in one. You eat Christmas pudding until you feel sick, and then you spend half an hour puking it all back up again in the downstairs toilet while your mum rubs your back and tells you off for having eyes bigger than your stomach.
You finish Christmas Day delighted with your gastric prowess, the puking incident is forgotten, and you go to bed and eat the rest of your chocolate reindeer under the covers.
GROWN-UPS: You are astounded by the abundance of festive victuals. You haven’t had lunch yet but you are already stuffed and a bit drunk with smoked salmon, scrambled egg, half a bottle of Bucks Fizz, a box of chocolate liquors and all the Quality Street big purple ones. You wish you’d cooked more sausages, you eat two meals’ worth of Christmas dinner, but you refuse Christmas pudding because you’ve never really enjoyed it since you vomited after eating too much of it as a kid. You finish Christmas Day in a drunken haze with your face in a Vintage Gouda and a vague despair at the weight you’ve put on but you don’t care because there’s CHEESE.
WINNER: Grown-ups. Your stomach is bigger, your tastes are more refined, and you’ve learnt from childhood vomiting experiences. And you can drink enough mulled wine, champagne and port to sink a ship whilst laughing at the kids for having to make do with crappy squash.
KIDS: You cry and cry at the end of The Snowman because the little boy lost his Snowman friend and he had had such a nice time with his Snowman friend and it’s just so sad that the Snowman friend had to melt like that, and what’s more, the fact you’re crying at Christmas is making you cry even more because no one should cry at Christmas, but oh my goodness me your new rollar skates are the best things ever and you immediately forget about the sad melted Snowman friend.
GROWN-UPS: You cry and cry at the end of The Snowman because the little boy lost his Snowman friend and life is so brief and joys are so fleeting and everything good ends up dark and shit and death is only round the corner, and the fact you’re crying at Christmas is making you cry even more because it’s the ninth ruddy time you’ve cried this Christmas because everyone cries at Christmas and where the hell is the eggnog and you can’t stop thinking about death.
WINNER: Kids. A blissful ignorance of all the profoundly depressing themes that permeate almost every single Christmas film is essential for festive self-preservation.
KIDS: After the initial shock of being manhandled by various people you vaguely remember from last Christmas, you are required to present to the assembled company a comprehensive list of your Christmas presents, after which you will be told you’re a very lucky girl and that they didn’t have nearly so many presents when they were children. Once the fourth batch of mulled wine has come out and Uncle Clive has started playing House of the Rising Sun on his guitar, you seize your opportunity to escape and resume building your neo-Gothic inspired Lego mansion. You return to the lounge an hour later to find everyone asleep and you cannot fathom how insufferably boring it must be to be a grown-up who falls asleep on Christmas Day.
GROWN-UPS: After the initial shock at how many kids your cousins have managed to churn out and ignoring a look from your mother that says ‘When are you going to have one?’, you get heavily involved in the alcohol to numb the bewildering amounts of noise the kids are making as they leap around to something called a Wii, and after the fourth batch of mulled wine has been handed round you get a warm fuzzy glow of affection for these mental relatives who are currently dancing madly to Uncle Clive playing House of the Rising Sun on his guitar, and two hours later you wake up with Aunt Audrey dribbling onto your shoulder and her false teeth in your lap, and you are mortified that you have become so insufferably old and boring and grown-up as to fall asleep on Christmas Day.
WINNER: Grown-ups. Kids have the benefit of being able to escape the ridiculousness of grown-ups at Christmas, whilst grown-ups have the benefit of being able to drink enough alcohol to remember that they adore their relatives and then pass out to escape the ridiculousness of kids at Christmas.
So there we have it. Kids: 3, grown-ups: 2. A close call, a small victory for the small people, and one that we should instantly forget about because Christmas can be ruddy brilliant whether we’re 8, 28, 58 or 88 (although grown-ups have the staggering benefit of MULLED WINE, and enjoy your crappy squash, kids).
Happy Christmas one and all, thank you for being such amazingly devoted and wonderful Listeners to the things that I say, and may Father Christmas bring you everything your hearts desire (within reason – a latex bodysuit is a frankly perverted desire).