Christmas. Supposedly it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The season to be jolly. A time for giving, a time for getting, a time for forgiving, and for forgetting (thanks for that, Sir Cliff.)
Except as far as Lucy’s concerned, it isn’t any of those things. In Lucy’s Expert Opinion, after having experienced 38 of the damn things, Christmas is a big pile of wanky shite. The most depressing time of the year. The season to be mightily pissed off. A time for giving zero fucks and getting a whole heap of irritation from the world at large.
Yes, in case you haven’t already grasped the message, Lucy is fervently anti-Christmas. Here are five reasons why.
1/ Her social life goes down the toilet
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that early December is supposed to be a social whirlwind. Shops are bursting with sparkly dresses, ideal for standing out in a crowd full of other women in, um, sparkly dresses. Magazines are full of tips on how to do special Christmas party makeup, usually involving the sort of glittery and gritty eyeshadow that gets everywhere and leaves Lucy feeling like she’s just walked through a sandstorm. The media is full of images of carefree women sipping champagne surrounded by laughing friends or snogging cute boys under the mistletoe.
But Lucy’s pretty sure this image of the glamorous singleton partying her way through December is just dreamed up by magazines and Hollywood. Certainly it’s not something she’s ever experienced, and she’s had a mind-numbing fifteen single Decembers in her adult life. You see, Lucy doesn’t get invited to fancy booze-fuelled Christmas parties because she’s self-employed. That means no excuse for a sparkly dress, no free booze, and no mistletoe. Instead, Lucy’s work Christmas party this year involved a Waitrose ready meal for one and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc while wearing pyjamas in front of reruns of Misfits on All4.
But of course it’s not all about work parties. Christmas time is also about spending time with friends, right? Well maybe, unless you are a 30-something Londoner whose friends have all married, had babies, and moved to the sticks so they can afford to buy a home bigger than a matchbox. These days, getting her married friends out of the house is tougher than persuading a Brexiteer that it doesn’t matter what colour his passport is. Factor in Christmas, and you might as well be trying to persuade Nigel Farage to let a Polish plumber fix his boiler. It seems people with families go into some kind of pre-holiday meltdown, panicking about whether they’ll be able to get hold of a Nerf gun for little Alfie, and have they ordered the turkey, and where is Auntie Beryl going to sleep (more about her later). So have they got time to go for a drink with Lucy? Of course they fucking haven’t.
And then, even when Lucy does, by some miracle, manage to find someone to go for a drink with, and makes an effort to put on a pretty outfit, and cripples herself trying to walk to the tube station in high heels, and allows herself to get her hopes up that she might actually meet a cute boy – of course it’s all bullshit. There are no more hot men around in December than at any other time of year. The pubs and bars are full of exactly the same guys: either married, or hopelessly useless, or fucktards just looking for a shag (and feeling even more entitled to one because it’s Christmas), and no amount of sequins or prosecco is going to change that. She might as well save her money and her waistline and stay the fuck in.
2/ Society assumes Christmas is a great time to be single
Around this time of year, the Internet is full of articles about how great it is to be single at Christmas – which seem to pop up with maddening regularity on Lucy’s Facebook timeline and Twitter feed (and don’t get her started on those bloody websites tracking her every fucking move). ‘Don’t worry if you don’t have a boyfriend!’ they cry. ‘You can do whatever you want!’
And while this is certainly true, and definitely one of the perks of being single, it’s actually no truer at Christmas than at any other time of year. Yes, she can take a long bath if she wants, or spend the money she would have spent on a boyfriend on herself instead, or buy a plane ticket and fuck off to South America.
But she can do that in March or August too. In December, however, the joy of being able to do whatever she wants is royally screwed up by the fact that now, everything and everywhere seems deliberately tailored to remind her how fucking single she is. Radio stations blaring out ear-bending songs about how full of love and joy Christmas is supposed to be, wall-to-wall adverts for perfume featuring chiselled actors gazing longingly at models in couture dresses, shop window displays of ‘great gift ideas’ featuring the sorts of romantic items that no one will ever buy for Lucy, tacky and overpriced Christmas markets full of couples strolling hand-in-hand, drinking mulled wine and generally getting in Lucy’s way while she’s trying to run errands and Get Shit Done.
It’s true, there are some good things about being single, but to Lucy it seems that Christmas is deliberately designed to make sure it’s as hard as humanly possible for her to enjoy them.
3/ Family time
Lucy is very lucky that her family members are reasonably tolerable people: for the most part they seem to get on pretty well. From a distance. Yep, her parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews are nice enough, as long as she doesn’t see them too often. Once every couple of months, for a day or two at the most, is sufficient. But at Christmas this careful balance of affectionate distance goes out of the window. The entire family (thirteen people at the last count) moves into one house together for four or five days, and Lucy knows from bitter experience that it’s completely impossible, no matter how much you like your relations, to get through that type of intense contact without at least a dozen screaming rows and a good few hurtful comments being thrown about.
But arguments might actually be preferable, because most of the time Lucy’s family members are actually blissfully coupled up: her parents have each other, both her siblings are happily married, even her nieces and nephews come in pairs. And this of course is all bloody marvellous, and Lucy is delighted for them, and pleased that they have found someone great and managed to spawn a few relatively tolerable offspring, all without having swiped on Tinder even once. But it’s also a pile of Grade A shite for Lucy, because there is absolutely nothing like being the only single person trapped in a house with a group of supportive couples to remind a girl like a punch in the face just exactly how alone she is.
When she’s at home, living by herself in London, rushing about at a frantic pace, filling her diary with distractions, it’s easy enough to ignore the soul-crushing exhaustion that comes with being single and having to do everything for and by yourself. But spending an extended period surrounded by couples brings the fact that she’s on her own into focus. 4K, high-definition focus. And it sucks.
4/ Being the spinster aunt
While Lucy is sure her family loves her, the fact that she’s on her own causes another problem: how does she fit in?
Remember Auntie Beryl? The awkward and bitter Christmas guest that the rest of the family has to accommodate out of duty because she has no family of her own and nowhere else to go. Lucy may not be quite as old as some people’s maiden Aunties but she’s definitely well on the way to being awkward and bitter, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that a few of her extended family members don’t really know what to do with her any more. Why doesn’t she have a boyfriend? Is she a closet lesbian? Where can she sleep? (Answer: the sofa, or the blow-up mattress, or one of the children’s beds). Who will have her on the alternate years when Lucy’s siblings go to their in-laws? (Answer: no one, Lucy is legit NFI, so she will actually fuck off on that plane to wherever-the-hell because there really is no alternative.)
Being the spinster aunt also means that Lucy has to endure the annual torture-fest that is the Christmas Eve or Boxing Day drinks party. This is where her parents’ random friends queue up in delight to ask Lucy questions about her personal life and offer unsolicited advice. Known Lucy since she was a baby? Haven’t seen her in a decade? Have names Lucy can’t even remember? No problem. This makes them entirely qualified to make useful suggestions like ‘have you tried online dating?’ and tell stories about ‘George’s daughter Rosie who met a man on Tinder at the age of 42 and is now expecting her first child, so just you hang in there, it’ll happen when you least expect it, yada yada yada.’ It’s exactly like that drinks party scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary except Lucy is considerably older than Bridget and there are definitely no cute single men anywhere to be seen, just paunchy and balding married ones throwing back the booze while their harassed wives try to stop the toddler from eating the Christmas tree.
5/ Using overindulgence as a coping mechanism
It may be that the drunken dads have the right idea: the only way to get through Christmas is booze. Lots of it. But while self-medication might seem like a great temporary fix, we all know what happens the day after. And Christmas is like the mother-of-all parties, reliably followed by the fat, sweaty daddy of all hangovers. Trapped in a house at Christmas, with no escape, surrounded by food, it’s way too easy to spend four or five days inhaling every chocolate, pig-in-blanket and mince pie in sight, just to get through it all. But of course then you then roll home at the end, and stand on the scales, and realise you are now staring down the barrel of a fucking miserable month in which not only is the weather a bastard and you still have no boyfriend, but you have also gained a stone and are now going to have to spend the next month trapped at home doing dry-fucking-January and the five-two diet just to be able to get back into your jeans. Because everyone knows you’re never going to catch yourself a husband if you let yourself go.
But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. There is one thing that Lucy likes about Christmas…
It’s only one fucking day, and pretty soon it’ll all be over for an entire year.
Merry Christmas Everybody!