Ah, Christmas; ‘tis the season to partake of time-honored family traditions and execute a good deed or two before retreating into one’s denim shell, bah-humbugging all the way! Despite not being all that great at religion, I remain a Christmas guy. Deck the halls in November and bring the tree down in February. I have no beef with the shameless capitalism that decks the halls of retailers, being a shameless capitalist myself and (as we have just established) a Christmas guy. Willing to sit at the table for once and share war stories from my writing life whilst working very hard to steer clear of political themes and the matter of when I’ll attend mass next. No one born before the 90s finds it funny when I worry that my horns might fall off, and then it takes a while to receive the gravy train again — but, ah, ‘tis the season!
This is the first Christmas I am poised to spend without my nephew, and so there will be no one born after the 90s to chuckle at my dark humor. We do what you do at my aunt’s house: we wait ’til late to decide whether we’re doing anything, even though we are, and then we wait ’til even later to make arrangements. (My family is full of adults whose brands are built on pretending to not care very much about conventional things, hence the existence of this column.)
We order presents ‘on the line’ in sufficient time for gifts to arrive by Boxing Day at least. On Christmas Eve, we make Sicilian bribes, sorry, promises, for elusive chunks of gammon at Majoru — and then we dive into the rush for groceries and condiments we won’t buy again for another eleven months. I play primarily supporting roles in these endeavors, my nephew gallantly leading our slick escapes. When we have all parted ways — the kids to superior parties, the adults to settle all the food — I lean on the Company of my holiday season survival kit, which I will graciously share with you now.
‘Cause I’m, you know, a Christmas guy.
Invest in some inconsequential reading material.
Since I am not yet the sort of person that says, “Oh, it’s (yawn) Paris for the holidays this year,” I tend to travel vicariously through books. This is the one time of year I can make reading choices without judging myself too harshly; I spend decent money on books that aren’t trying to alter the course of civilization or teach me anything particularly new.
I seriously recommend Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Abaro, which begins with a sentence, “I think they’ve lost our luggage,” that many people will utter this festive season. One’s Company, by Ashley Hutson, begins with this: “After I won the lottery, a lot of strangers showed up to tell me what a piece of trash I was.”
Fire up some Christmas jazz, why don’t you.
I quite routinely play the Vince Giraldi Trio’s ‘Christmas Time is Here’ off A Charlie Brown Christmas whenever I feel like the global economy has thoroughly kicked my ass. It’s a genuinely soothing balm, like the vibes of unexpected cake and Head & Shoulders shampoo. So soothing that Norah Jones covered it for I Dream of Christmas, her only true Christmas record.
Turn these gems on just before you slice the roast. It’ll help you avoid awkward conversations about politics and when next you’re attending mass.
See a fantasy epic or buy a ton of chocolate and stream one.
No one wants to eat again, really, when Christmas lunch is only over at roughly 6 or 7 pm. If there was enough time, and if local theatres were screening anything besides super-hero nonsense (urgh), I used to throw my nephews and nieces in a cab, not do the math, and then bundle them all out at The Hobbit or something. I’d much rather they learnt stuff about mortality and sacrifice and commodities.
There’ll be an Avatar sequel in December, and Netflix will make all sorts of noise about a computerised stab at Pinocchio. I doubt I’ll bother with either one, but rest assured, I will be sneaking exotic chocolate someplace. If you can find it, a Yorkie bar or a slab of Galaxy will literally swing the holidays.
Chola Chisengalumbwe is dashing through the snow at www.thegrab.net