Inexorable, time brings another Christmas. 2011. Another year.
Most people appear to feel the need, perhaps a socially-imposed obligation, to make a show that they are sharing something they are likely to consider either mirth, or happiness, or a general state of wellbeing. Yet some of us do not feel that way. Some of us cannot feel that way even if we wanted to. And believe me, we do try.
I don’t like being told to have a ‘Happy Christmas’, because it is not going to be happy for me. It cannot be. Like all children in the Western world, my 6-year old Clea loved Christmas, she thoroughly enjoyed the excitement leading up to the morning of the 25th when she would find the presents she wanted. She had believed the Christmas lie line hook and sinker. How else could it be?
It’s not possible for me to feel excited or make a show of excitement for my other two children. I could of course pretend, but would that be the sort of honesty your children deserve from you?
What’s worse, of course, is that there’s always the insufferable twaddle like the following from a Mr Juan Arias in El País: ‘En Europa esta Navidad no será particularmente alegre. Será forzosamente triste para aquellos a los que la crisis económica ha dejado en la cuneta de la pobreza y de la desesperación del empleo. Triste para los que aun no habiendo sufrido el zarpazo de la bestia, no deberían dejar de sufrir por las víctimas del sistema que crearon los financieros sin escrúpulos.’
Sob. Pass me the Kleenex, please. There, there, that’s better. ¿El zarpazo de la bestia? Tough, hard, it may and will be. No doubt. But sad? Spare us this mindless drivel.
Mr Arias begins his article with the above and then goes on to preach (the tone of the article sounds very much like that of a preacher) about peace, hope, generosity, the evil powers of neo-capitalism and rampant consumerism. It’s all very well, but it reads like the typically hollow Eurocentrism (if not utterly hypocritical claptrap) to make the connection between sadness and a situation of unemployment and poverty. Millions of people have been living (and will continue to live) in abject poverty for many years but have managed to remain cheerful, almost happy (whatever that may mean).
It’s Christmas, yes, but I don’t celebrate. My Christmas is sad for reasons which are nothing to do with the economy. And I’d rather not hear about positivity, about these being times for joyous sharing, about the cheerful spirit of Christmas and gift giving. I’ve stopped believing in all of that.
So there are other things I’d rather hear. I’d rather see a more widespread awareness that we are overusing our finite resources and indulging in overconsumption as if there were no tomorrow. For some of us, there’s some truth to that, though. It feels like it’s a no-tomorrow, or perhaps the sense that that no-tomorrow is just fucking too long a time.
I’d much prefer to have read a mention of my daughter’s name in those pesky wasteful Christmas cards, and an insinuation that there's awareness of how sad it must be for us, as Clea’s no longer with us to celebrate Christmas, because, like all children, Clea loved Christmas.
I’d much prefer to hear words such as ‘don’t drink too much’, because the fact is that I’m very likely to drink and cry myself to exhaustion, and it’s very well known what alcohol does to sad people. Those are the sort of things I’d prefer.
Tomorrow, on Christmas Day, after my two boys have received their presents, I will go out into the garden and pick a bunch of colourful flowers – it’s lucky Christmas happens during summer down under. We will take them to the cemetery and leave them on Clea’s grave. Happy Christmas, babita, my loved one.
That’ll be my sad Christmas Day.
Enjoy yourself since you must.