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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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The C word
delirium happy
Prior to Christmas 2000, I insisted quite adamantly to my parents that I wanted nothing to do with Christmas, and would be quite happy to be left on my own, and treating it as just any other day. My parents weren't convinced. Quite apart from the fact that they wanted to spend Christmas in my company, they were also worried that being alone for Christmas would be bad for my mental well-being, and were (quite rightly, given how bad my communication with them was at the time) unconvinced by my assurances that I really didn't mind.

After some negotiation, it was agreed that what we would do was forsake the large extended-family gathering that had hitherto been traditional at Christmas, and instead have a much smaller family gathering. We went up to my parents' cottage in the Lake District for a few days. They even finally got around to getting a phone line installed there so I could have Internet access, since even back then, that would have been a deal breaker for me. I spent Christmas in the company of my Mum, my Dad, Matthew (my brother) and Jenny (my brother's then fiancée, now wife). I'm trying to remember if Ruth (my sister) was there as well but I can't for the life of me recall.

Suffice is to say, it was not, in general, a happy Christmas for me. If there's one thing that I hate about Christmas more than anything else it's forced jollity. Saying something like "Cheer up; it's Christmas!" to me is only a good idea if being attacked by a homicidal maniac is your idea of a good time. My depression at the time was pretty horrendous, my gender issues were causing me a lot of bother, and I was not generally a happy bunny. To be told to ignore all of this and be happy seemed to me insensitive at best and downright rude at worst.

What ended up happening was that I was generally sour and miserable, which naturally ruined the occasion somewhat for the others present. Jenny (I think) made a comment about how I should stop being so miserable and bringing everyone else down, and I ragequit the dinner table. In the middle of Christmas dinner. Yes, exactly.

Since then, my parents have been much more willing to accept my desire to be left alone for Christmas. They saw then first-hand that being around other people being happy and cheery at Christmas isn't necessarily good for me, and since they generally rock and try to do what's best for me, they're happy to leave me alone. I think this is a good arrangement, which works far better for all parties than the square peg in a round hole approach of Christmas 2000.

The following year, Christmas 2001, I visited softfruit. Both of us were planning to spend the time ignoring the festivities entirely and pretending Christmas didn't exist, so it worked reasonably well to get some company without having to do the whole Christmas thing. As I recall, we watched bootleg copies of early season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had been shown on the TV in the US but not over here at that point, and which was much trickier to obtain in those days before the ubiquity of broadband Internet connections.

That was the last time I celebrated Christmas in any way at all. Since then, it's been just another day for me, albeit one with the added annoyance of shops being closed, and a slightly increased chance of a half-decent movie being on the TV. I haven't sent any cards or bought any presents. If anyone asked me what I wanted, I always told them not to get me anything. I haven't decorated, or listened to Christmas songs or ate anything other than my usual fare. Christmas has become a complete non-event for me.

At first, I was quite militantly anti-Christmas. I would express annoyance at anyone who sent me a card or gave me a present, and would quite loudly complain about anything and everything even vaguely connected with the season. In short, I behaved like a jerk. In recent years, I've mellowed somewhat. I've adopted a live-and-let-live approach. If other people want to enjoy Christmas, then that's great and I'm happy for them. I still don't want to play, but I have no problem with others choosing to get their kicks that way. I've also come to appreciate that people find joy in giving, and that sending a card or a present is a genuine gesture of good-will, and I've grown to be able to accept it as such.

This year, for the first time in 6 years, I'm actually considering observing Christmas in some small way. Don't get me wrong, I still think that there's an awful lot about Christmas that's completely insane. I think that in general the stress that people put on themselves in the months beforehand is ludicrous and not worth it for a day or two of celebration. I think that a lot of the obligations surrounding Christmas are stupid. Exchanging gifts that nobody wants with relatives you hardly know is an exercise in wasting money.

For the first time in a long time, though, I'm wondering if maybe I haven't thrown the baby out with the bathwater. There are definitely aspects of Christmas that I can get behind. I'm contemplating sending out cards. In this Internet-dominated world in which I live, I quite like the idea of having an excuse to stop a moment and send out something tangible to my friends, even if it is only an excuse. In a similar vein, I'm considering stopping saying "no, don't send me cards" and starting saying "why yes, I'd love a card" if people ask.

I'm not sure about this. It feels like a big step. Saying "I don't celebrate Christmas" is something I've been doing for long enough now that it's become almost instinctive, and as everyone knows, change is scary. On the other hand, it does feel like the right thing to do, and it's only right to take stock and review this sort of thing once in a while rather than just always carrying on by inertia.

I think that if I do decide to do this, it shall be with my friends only and not my family, at least for this year. As far as my family is concerned I can remain a staunch Yuletide refusenik. The thought of doing anything festive with my family remains just far too weird.

I'm still somewhat grappling with my thoughts on this one, so any input would be appreciated.

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I see where you're going with this. If I manage to work myself up into a homicidal rage before it's even December, then there's absolutely nothing that Christmas could do to put me in a worse mood. I suppose that could work...

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