EVERY week I try to be funny. Sometimes I fail, I know. But I try.
Not this week.
I am about to spend my first Christmas on my own in 63 years.
I managed to have my leg broken by a drunken cyclist back in 1949, and spent Christmas and my birthday in hospital, in traction, but my mum and dad and big sister were there, and the local Rotary Club choir, a Santa Claus who smelled of iodine, and lots of other sick kids, too, and I seem to remember we had a nice time.
I came close in 1977, when I was 33 years old and sailing a boat across the North Atlantic with two mates. We thought we might make into Gibraltar in time for a real Christmas Day celebration, but the winds died and we sat becalmed. I made crackers out of old magazine pages and wrote “Bang!” on bits of paper and stuffed them inside. We had tinned ham for Christmas dinner and as each of woke to take up our watch we found Santa had left an orange and a bottle of beer in our sea boots.
But there were still three of us. We pulled our crackers and all agreed that Christmas was far too commercialised and we weren’t really interested in it anyway. Then we went very quiet and blew our noses.
But this time I am doing it properly. Christmas for one. No one on the other end of the cracker. I will get both drumsticks off the turkey. If I want that satisfying “clink” of raised champagne glasses I’m going to have to hold one in each hand.
I love Christmas; I love the rush and the panic and the inevitable over-expenditure on pressies, food and wine; I love the glitter and the awful renderings of carols by second-rate (and even first-rate) pop stars; I love the plastic junk and the traditional wooden toys and I love to watch my neighbour across the road and pretend he’s really not such a bad person after all.
I say so to my wife. “Oh… he’s not so bad,” I say.
And she says: “Hmph. That’s not what you’ll be saying the day after Boxing Day.”
And she’s right. Was right. This year I won’t be saying those things to her and she won’t be replying. I have no idea yet how Christmas is going to be. My children all want to have Christmas with me, but our Christmases have always involved a massive gathering of children and partners and grandchildren in our home — that is, the one my wife and I used to share. I’m not sure that’s an option any more.
I don’t even know how you’re supposed to do Christmas on your own! Do you still wake up and shout “He’s been!” if there’s no one there to shout it to? And will he have been? Does he visit people who live alone? I’ve heard ugly rumours that he doesn’t.
But dammit, it’s Christmas! And I will not be thwarted, Here’s my email address: email@example.com
I’ll have it open Christmas Day. If you need someone for the other end of your cracker just write “Bang!” and I’ll return the favour.
Happy Christmas anway.