I just went out to buy some Christmas cards. Given that I work on London’s busiest shopping street, you wouldn’t have thought it would be that hard, but then again it probably goes some way towards explaining why all the cards were such crap.
Victorian Christmases make me happy. That means lots of glitter, baubles that have nothing to do with reindeer (humming birds from The Conran Shop, £12, get one). I love the carols, the haunting ones in minor keys that bring to mind the somewhat confusing image of Jesus Christ being born in the Lake District. I love the idea of peace on earth, goodwill to all men. I reviewed a DVD of a film called Joyeux Noel recently, about the Christmas Armistice in 1914. The film was a horrible mess, but the enchantment, the ritualistic certainty of Christmas as a pure thing in the midst of such insanity was perfect. I’m a festive sap, basically.
This is why being confronted with selections of charity Christmas (Christmas! Not fucking Winter Wonderland, not fucking Season’s Greetings) cards was akin to someone taking a paper chain and slicing bits of my skin off. It was painful. Reindeer buckling under sleighs covered in presents – “A Christmas wish”. A lovely tree, the floor in front of it covered in used and abandoned wrapping paper – “A Merry Christmas”. A self-satisfied fash-mag-slag cartoon ice skating smugly – “Have a fabulous Christmas”. What the fuck? Presents? Sure, everyone likes presents. And ice skating. But is that it? Who says you’re going to get that fucking awful Bratz doll when you’re such a ghastly spoiled child? Santa ClasusAt the other end of the scale, you had some terrifyingly grim angels and a Madonna and child you’d cross the street to avoid. Joy to the world indeed.
Yesterday the Little Blonde Snapper and I went to Banksy’s anti-Christmas grotto, perfectly positioned at the can’t-get-any-shitter end of Oxford Street. A confident bouncer greeted us on the door and ticker-taped us off as we entered. The Mona Lisa flashed us at the entrance, while a faceless ASBO kid in a black hoodie stuck his head through the wall, frozen. Modern Toss had a load of pictures about sarcasm. Traffic cones, redecorated ironies, piss-takes, absolutely no subtleties. Good grief, they’ve repackaged Christmas and delivered it.
Next door, a little sparse tree stood dolefully on a chair, while a massive picture of Michael Jackson beckoning Hansel and Gretel into his house hung on the wall, tinsel hanging across the top of its frame. A skull from a Nightmare Before Christmas reindeer sagged next to it, while a cheery man with a beard (not that one) bellowed out information about the hoop-la. A little cinema showed films in a tiny curtained-off room. One of LBS’s friends had done mosaics of film characters.
It was like a funeral to Christmas, but the horrible, glossy, uncaring “I’ve got to get my Christmas shopping done at any cost and you’ll be damned grateful for whatever you get” ethic. Not the slightly eerie atmosphere of waiting, the glorious feeling of hope.
Because that’s what Christmas is about, the season rather than the day. Up until Oliver Cromwell decided to throw a tantrum, it used to be customary for the community to take off the whole 12 days of Christmas and just sing, dance and feast. It’s about hope, excitement, anticipation, the wind changing. Enjoying the Nativity scene doesn’t make you a Christian, just as buying an Easter egg doesn’t fully pay you up to the pagan club, but it’s a lovely story. The birth of a child, goodness to others, the hope of peace finally coming from somewhere. People coming together, being with those whom they love, looking after people, feeling the tingle of something other-worldly. The Christian values that don’t extend to sending gay people to hell or fighting new Crusades.
It’s about kindness, love and looking to the future. So why can’t I find a bloody card that says that?
I was so depressed I went to M&S and bought a load of chocolate biscuits and then, to try and minimise the collateral damage, sent an email around to the office so I wouldn’t eat them all. And look, everyone’s happy because everyone likes biscuits. And I am happy because I am buzzing like a fruit fly, albeit slightly worried that my diabetic boss is going to keel over if he keeps on pouncing on the box.
Oh! Wow! Greed by proxy is obviously a virtue because Swishblog Chris has just made me a Christmas card! (It's the picture, isn't it?) And look, Santa Claus is reacting against all this over-consumer bullshit! (Santa Claus goes to greedy kids, Father Christmas is part of Christmas). Oh my god, I feel like what’shisname and the end of that horrifyingly depressing film, only with an army of biscuit-fed colleagues instead of the town. Am I…oh my, I’m nearly crying. Atta boy Clarence.
EDIT: Oh wait, then this happens: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/07122006/344/son-arrested-presents.html
FESTIVE CHEER DESTROYED.
You can pretty much see where this is going from the last three words in the link. Ho ho ho. As Ashlea says, "What a bitch huh?"
Then again, as DJourno (who somehow managed to get out of work and a copy of london lite) says: "I think it's brilliant and should be encouraged - he's obviously a horrible toe-rag (admittedly with adhd) who could do with a little tough love. only in america/hanging's too good for 'em ectect"
And Orchestral Blonde... "I read about this - brilliant. I bet the kid had been a right s*** and she'd had enough. Jean always said to me that if I was arrested for anything she'd leave me in the cells for the night!! She would've done too...."
Fair enough. The kid is 12 after all.