I am what you’d call an enthusiastic person. It’s almost annoying. I’m the first in line when there’s someone doing free glitter lips makeovers, the one running towards the big scary rollercoaster in the theme park, the one pulling out a sewing machine when there’s a fancy dress party. I sing the loudest during “Happy Birthday” and do the lion’s share of organising the charity bake sales. I like being involved and I like being giggly and happy and celebrating things.
That being said, I hate Christmas.
Well, I don’t hate it. It’s more that I don’t get any enjoyment out of it whatsoever. I see people in festive jumpers sipping hot chocolate and unwrapping presents from friends and family with looks of festive joy on their faces and I know I should be in my element, but instead I’m left cold both literally and figuratively. While my friends watch the sky and cross their fingers for snow, I glare at every frosty day like it’s just insulted my mother and spat on my cat. The pressure of buying Christmas gifts for people far outweighs the makeup sets from Debenhams I get in return. I think most Christmas films are fine, but the only one I’d watch without simultaneously flicking through Snapchat is The Muppet Christmas Carol.
I guess I feel about Christmas the same way I feel about getting my nails done or watching a football match. I know that some people love the experience and get really excited about it, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. It’s fine and I’ll tolerate it because I have no other choice, but it’s so far down the list of things I’d actually want to do with my time it’s only a few places above “listen to Nan talk about the time she met Shakin’ Stevens’ grandmother at the bakery for the 100th time”.
Hating Christmas wouldn’t be a problem for me if it wasn’t really lonely to feel like the only person in the world who isn’t celebrating something. When everyone around you is sharing plans, singing carols and ironically wearing ugly jumpers, it’s like they’re all having a brilliant party that you’ve not been invited to. The second Halloween ends and Christmas things start appearing in the shops, I start getting little twinges of dread about feeling like a freak for most of December.
It doesn’t help that people are constantly surprised at my lack of Christmas cheer, openly calling me weird or telling me I have no heart because I don’t understand the fun of eating weird things you’d never usually touch (Christmas pudding? Mince meat? Cheese footballs? WHY?!) until you feel sick and watching terrible Christmas ‘specials’ of TV shows that are usually brilliant (Doctor Who, I’m looking at you) while wearing hideous snowflake PJs from an auntie you haven’t seen in four years who couldn’t think what else to buy you.
If you’re similarly Scroogey, you’re not alone and you’re completely normal. I know how hard it is, and I’ve spent years figuring out the best ways to cope with the festive period when you’re feeling more like the Grinch than Good King Wenceslas.
1. Always remember that Christmas will pass, and that by the New Year things will all be back to normal. TV will become sane, the food will be the lovely comforting stuff it always is, and you won’t have to listen to Fairytale Of New York 20 times a day any more.
2. Prepare your answers. When someone asks you what your favourite Christmas song, food or film is, make sure that you aren’t stuck mumbling “Um, well, I don’t really like Christmas”. If instead you can merrily trill “I love All I Want For Christmas/pigs in blankets/Love Actually! What about you?”, you don’t have to spend half an hour defending your perfectly valid dislike of all things festive.
3. Take some non-Christmassy time for yourself. Make an excuse – dodgy tummy, tired from all the festive fun, homework to finish, friends to FaceTime – and hide in your room with a book or your phone until you’re feeling strong enough to face the world again.
4. Get yourself a buddy. Find someone you love and trust – your mum, your best mate, that person on Instagram who always likes your selfies – and tell them that you get PMS, aka ‘Perpetual Merriment Strops’. Having someone who understands that you’re feeling rubbish and might need to unload will immediately make you feel less alone.
This Christmas, you’ll find me smiling on the outside whilst imagining I’m somewhere completely different on the inside. If I can do it, so can you. I hope you have a entirely manageable Christmas, and a totally tolerable New Year.