And once again it’s that time of year where everyone spends a ton of cash sending bits of paper through the mail to people they haven’t seen since that holiday inÂ TorremolinosÂ in 1997; stress themselves silly trying to get the last remaining [insert current trendy toy here] for the kids for them to cling to for a week before binning it for the next piece of cheap mass-produced, but well-marketed crap; assault their digestive systems with far too much… well, everything – especially sprouts.
Yet for some reason, people call it a celebration.
OK, let me be specific. Humbug to all the stuff in the first paragraph. It’s fluff. It’s unnecessary. It’s nice, I suppose, but in the end it succeeds only in making the retailers happy.
What makes most of us happy at this time of year? Spending time with the family. And I include myself in this – despite recalling many,Â many holiday seasons in the past which I enjoyed hugely simply because I was on my own.
The Americans have one thing right. Which is pretty poor, given the size of the country, but hey. One thing’s better than nothing. They have the Thanksgiving holiday. A holiday the sole purpose of which (OK, sole other than to make Hallmark even richer) is to bring families together and make them recognise that they all have something to say “thank you” for. It’s non-denominational. It doesn’t exclude anyone based on race, colour, creed, height, or even if they’re ginger. Hell, they even invite non-Americans if they’re kicking about in the country on their own.
It is more important for Americans to be with their family for this one annual meal than it is at any other time of the year.
Here in the UK, we don’t have Thanksgiving. The closest we have is Xmas/Christmas/the December holiday. Family is what it’s all about. Kids opening those crappy presents they’ll have broken before the batteries (which you forgot to buy, you fool) run out. Grandad pretending to be Santa, handing stuff out. Thirty+ people crammed into a house designed to hold half a dozen if they think elbow room is a luxury.
And the one or two members of the family celebrating it with a little one who’s going through it all for the first time.
That’s me, that is.
Humbug to everything else. The best Christmas present I ever received arrived 5 months to the day earlier. She wasn’t delivered by a fat bloke in an ill-fitting suit. She was delivered by my beautiful wife, Gillian. She needed wrapping when we got her. She’s self-powered – we just add milk and sloppy stuff from tubs. We’ve also managed not to break her (although at times it feels like she’s breaking us).
She’s beautiful. Perfect.
This is her first Christmas – and I couldn’t be any more thankful.
So, to all friends and family – have a brilliant day, but specifically:
Gillian – thank you. For being my wife and the mother of all three of our children. I can never repay what you’ve given me. But I’ll do my best.
Ellissa – we don’t always get on, but you’re the best annoyingly pre-teenage daughter a man could ever wish for.
Austin – I defy anyone to claim they have a better son than I have in you.
Ann – if it weren’t for you, I’d not have Gillian. Mothers-in-law like you are the reason Bernard Manning ran out of steam all those years ago, and I can never thank you enough for letting me marry your daughter.
Mum & Dad – I know you were generous to a fault all these years, and I had some cracking presents. But I’m sure you’ll agree that none of them can match what I have to be happy about today.
And in case you forgot who it was writing all this: HUMBUG.