Kat Kerrigan is one of the main characters in the book I’m writing at the moment. She hates Christmas. She says, ‘Christmas makes everything seem worse than it already is.’
I’m a bit like that. Take last weekend, for example. I went – like an innocent lamb to the abbatoir – to the cinema at my local shopping centre to watch a film with my children. When I get there, it’s like the end of the world. Mobbed. Christmas music blaring. Christmas decorations, hanging like bodies. A disorderly queue trailing from Santa’s grotto, like the tail of a kite.
A woman in the lift turned to her companion and said, ‘You wouldn’t think it, would you?
‘That it’s Christmas? Already?’
IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS. IT’S NOVEMBER!!
On the plus side, Santa can come in handy. My aunt Mary used to run to the fireplace anytime me and my siblings were misbehaving – she’d pick up the poker and bang it against the fireplace and roar up the chimney ‘SANTY, CAN YOU HEAR ME?’ and then she’d tell the tales that needed telling and we’d stop misbehaving or we’d continue misbehaving in another room, so she couldn’t see us. So yeah, Santy can be a good stick to beat children with – metaphorically, obviously.
Then there’s the availability of huge tins of chocolate Kimberlys. Difficult to source at other times of the year.
It’s the M&S ads that get me. And the Coca Cola ads. And the Budweiser ads. All that happiness. Too Much Happinnes, Alice Munro said, and I’m inclined to agree with her. It makes me uneasy. Am I supposed to be that happy? And what if I’m not? What if I can’t make my children that happy? What’ll happen if we’re not all sat around a roaring fire on Chrismtas morning, bathed in fairy lights, with tinkling music in the background and our hands wrapped around huge mugs of warm, frothy chocolate. What then?
Me and my mam are making the Christmas puds and cake this Saturday. It’s our Christmas tradition. She buys the ingredients. I grease the cake tin with butter paper. She sieves the flour. I peel the almonds. We search our kitchens for the lids of last year’s pudding bowls that we never find. I am dispatched to the local ‘Home Stop’ to buy more. Everyone in the house has to stir the puddin’ mixture with the wooden spoon; that’s the rule. I think it’s for luck. Hopefully, it’ll be just what I need to switch on the Christmas lights in my contrary heart.
Is Mise le Meas,