Ho Ho Ho!
And those are the words that are usually uttered at lasses out on a hen night in Blackpool. But tis’ the season, the meaning of those words has changed.
Unless of course, you’re from St. Helens in which case the former meaning is the usual one regardless of season and level of merriment therein.
It’s not that I don’t like Christmas… no, who am I kidding, I hate it really.
The reason I hate Christmas and have but a passing tolerance for it, I shall relate to you.
In 2007, my world ended. It really, actually did. There was no 21st December 2012 madness, no, the world ended for me in the spring of that year.
Burying two tiny, perfect babies by the time the summer of 2007 had even started, changed my perspective on life forever.
I was immature before then and naive. I wasn’t dumb, but like a lot of people aged 24, I thought I had a good handle on life. I hadn’t had the easiest start in the world, or a good ride of it since, but I saw myself as someone who was clever and worldly wise.
Then, as aforementioned, the world ended. How do you deal with something like that? How does your head get round, at such a young age, the absolute colossal enormity of what is happening to you and those around you? I was shaken down to my foundations and left with a keen and bright sense of loss.
Christmas came far too quickly and in the meantime between losing my babies, I had a miscarriage in the Autumn. I was adrift in a sea of misery and pain, my husband and I unable to help each other as we were too busy drowning individually.
The thought of going out and buying things for people made us both physically sick. The idea of walking through the surging crowds of rosy-cheeked people with their inevitable wide-eyed children was disturbing to us. We wanted to find a deep hole and crawl inside, never to be seen again. We just had no inclination to join in the spirit of the season.
The equation, to us, was simple: our babies were gone, Christmas is about children, we do not want to celebrate as bereaved parents. We couldn’t put ourselves, selfish I know, through the trauma and horror of putting up a tree and buying gifts – pretending that everything was fine with such latent emotional fall out everywhere we looked.
After agonising, we decided that instead of buying people something, we’d use the money to make a donation to charity on their behalf, as their Christmas gift. Instead of a trinket under the tree, they had made a donation to charity. We thought this was the best way forwards for all. We helped the charity and baby unit that had supported us, everyone gets a gift and we all live (happily) ever after.
We wrote our nearest and dearest a letter explaining how we were feeling and what we had done and why.
We couldn’t imagine that anyone would have an issue. Right? Who in their right mind would even expect a grieving couple who had just lost two children to go off and buy them something? I know I wouldn’t. In fact, I would be insisting they spent it totally on themselves.
Oh, how wrong we were.
The attachment people have for tat in shiny paper dumbfounded and startled us. We had shouts down the phone, phones put down on us and angry words sent our way. We had people tell us that if they had known we were not getting them anything (a charity donation obviously doesn’t count, apparently) they wouldn’t have bothered getting us anything. It became some sort of bizarre gift exchange process. We buy them something, they get us something. There was no giving without receiving, which I thought wasn’t what it was all about.
I was utterly gobsmacked. There are still people to this day that I don’t talk to because of it.
I cannot believe how fiercely people need to protect their need to get ‘presents’ and when they don’t, they stomp their feet like petulant children. All I could think of was how lucky they all were to have a Christmas. My two babies never even got to have one.
So, I hate Christmas, because as I found out to my abhorrence, all people care about is gifts. It’s not about family or human spirit, but things wrapped up in stockings and under trees.
You will of course want to correct me and tell me that I’m wrong, but that was my own experience. I tolerate Christmas now for the sake of my four year old daughter whom it is naturally a very magical time.
So my less than lukewarm reception to Christmas is a natural reaction to my own experiences which I can only wish I could help.
Merry Christmas one and all, but frankly? Bah humbug!