Yes, I know that when it comes to Christmas, I am a miserable old fart.
This year I will be 7,000 miles from Chandler’s Ford; will I be unhappy because…?
1. Christmas music
I will miss being enveloped in music oozing from all public places; White Christmas, Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Comin’. Cliff Richard and Mistletoe and Wine and all the elderly ladies who wish he was their son.
White Christmas – Bing Crosby
2. Cheap cards and pens from charities
I will miss all those solicitations for donations, all that guilt feeling because I throw away those pens and cheap cards sent by charities in the hope of shaming me into giving a donation. I will miss them but it will not make me unhappy.
If I send a donation to the charities, my contact details will be sold to 100 other charities who will all write asking for more. Like Scrooge I say ‘Bah’ to all the organised charities and their CEOs on six figure salaries. It is easy to find something or someone near home worthy of help.
3. Christmas trees
I will miss paying £££ for a miserable bit of Norwegian Spruce and I will miss freezing in the garden while trying to get it to stand upright in a bucket.
I will miss the needles shed and the arguments over where to tie each bit of glitter.
4. Christmas cards and circular letters
And then all those cards; where to put them?
There are those circular letters explaining how someone’s son has passed more A levels that there are subjects and how, after a gap year saving the planet, they will get a job running the United Nations or World Health Organisation.
5. Useless Christmas presents
All those useless presents. Please, not another tie rack for a man who, at this time of life, only needs one tie and that has to be a black one for funerals.
No more humorous books about 101 ways to cook a dead parrot. I do not need any more clutter – a kind thought will suffice.
6. Drinks of all sorts
Then there is the awful ‘tradition’ that you have to drink too much.
I will refuse to buy bottles of stuff we never drink. Rum, you know Uncle Tom likes a drop; Vodka, son-in-law loves this tasteless gut rot. Martini – for the ladies. There are half full bottles of this stuff somewhere in a cupboard from years ago.
7. Black Friday
Now there is a new hazard – Black Friday. It sounds like something all discerning people should avoid.
It seems like a contrivance to legitimise greed and grasping for the benefit of no one in particular and to the detriment of most.
8. Christmas decorations
We have a Christmas figurine supposedly like Santa. It is the epitome of ugliness and vulgarity. People say ‘Isn’t he sweet?’ as it postures, hands on grossly obese belly, on our hearth for the 12 days of Christmas.
Then there are cheap decorations looking like reindeer, trees, fairies, stars or just a plain log. They litter the house and keep falling over.
Why did we have to buy a plastic log? There are plenty real ones in the garden.
9. Christmas Eve: the magic begins
And then, suddenly, it is 4.00 pm on Christmas Eve. In King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury, Choirmaster, will point to one of 16 expectant trebles. This boy will sing, ‘Once in Royal David’s City.’
Then the magic begins as darkness falls and I can sit with a glass of sherry and a few walnuts and recall Christmases past, friends and family past and present, near and far and, with good fortune, consider a new family member about to arrive.
King’s College Cambridge 2008: Once in Royal David’s City
We’re in Sri Lanka this Christmas
It will be different in Sri Lanka. Everyone celebrates Christmas although only 10% of the population is Christian.
We will have a party for our Sri Lankan friends; we will hire a band to play Sri Lankan music and a few carols. A friend will sing for us.
I will not miss mince pies and Christmas pudding. My wife thoughtfully stocked up with Harrods pies and puddings and brought them out here. There is a man called Gilbert who does most wonderful party food but not turkey.
A container of turkeys arrives out here in Colombo every year arranged by American ex-pats. They are all cooked and eaten at Thanksgiving.
We enjoyed our first Thanksgiving with American friends two years ago and I, because I have a degree in surgery, was asked to do the carving.
I have had the honour of being Santa Claus again at the school nursery. Riding through town in a tuk-tuk dressed as Santa turns a few heads and children look in amazement.
One tourist stopped her car and asked for a picture. She was French and thought I was Sinhala and was surprised when I wished her ‘Bon Noël’.
Watching the children’s faces as they received their presents was wonderful. Did anyone recognise Santa afterwards at the party? This year they did not although one girl gave me a knowing look.
Post Series: Dispatches from Sri Lanka, by Mike Sedgwick:
- Christmas in Sri Lanka: 9 Things in England I’ll Miss This Christmas
- Agricultural Restaurant in Sri Lanka
- Back to Sri Lanka
- Bats and Hallowe’en
- Dispatches From Sri Lanka
- Kandy Lake vs Chandler’s Ford Lakes
- Self-Employment In Sri Lanka
- Sri Lankan Wedding
- Sri Lankan Food
- There’s Some Corner Of A Foreign Field
- The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka
- This Is the Record Of John
- Tuk-tuk: My Transport Of Delight
- Life On The Road
- Commonwealth Games In Kandy
- A Temple For A Tooth?
- Dawn Train Down The Mountain To Colombo
- Traditional And Modern Medicine in Sri Lanka
- Ancient Vedda Tribe Becoming Extinct
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