Hello, and welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our quiet spot of the internet where this week it might be time to think about stepping back for a moment and smelling the holly.
Tis the season of rampant consumerism. Adverts to the right of me, billboards to the left of me – here I am, stuck in the middle with a piece of burning plastic in my hand and an all encroaching sense of panic and a fully blossoming overdraft.
Hit that perfect gift girl! There’s a never ending parade of prettiness wrapped all in bows and ribbons, screaming BUY BUY BUY! Want to be good enough, spend enough, be enough for everyone? Then look at THIS! Baubles, trinkets, gadgets, gadget guides, Android versus Apple, have the newest, the smartest of smart phones. Plastic fantastic!
Never ending banquets of unquenching delight, parading across your screens. Enough sprouts to fill a bathtub. Dead birds galore. Dead birds stuffed inside dead birds – a five bird carnival of death to celebrate a life. Faux roast potatoes, faux Yorkshire puddings. Yea, come all ye faithful – your goose is getting fat and you liver becoming pate.
By the Rivers of Alcohol – where we fall down. Drink THIS beverage from THIS embossed bottle and the world is yours! Drink of the ambrosial cup and ride the porcelain all night long! Enjoy that fizz whizz kids.
The host with the most – the most booze, the most filo pastry wrapped nibbles, the biggest chocolate fountain, the best cocktails, the NINE bird roast! Should have gone to – oh, wait? You didn’t spend seven hours painstakingly making your own filo before the event? Puff pastry fail.
You got the sparkle, kid? That best fashion-forward frock, that HoHoHo! jumper that you know – just know – will be consigned to the Bin of Oblivion before Twelfth Night concludes. Buffed, waxed, shined, talon’d. And that man bun better be perfect. Oh wait, is that mince pie in your beard? Selfie fail.
Any of this ringing those Christmas bells up inside your head yet?
Christmas can be brilliant. It can bring warmth, family, love and light. But it can also bring anxiety, stress and a whole host of shiny irrelevances and impossible standards that – if we think about it – we struggle to achieve and tie ourselves in anxiety knots over.
In the opening scenes of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) little Cindy Lou is standing in the centre of a frenzy of Christmas must-have. You can’t see her face for the piles of presents she’s holding. But you hear her little voice faltering to be heard, asking “Dad? Doesn’t this seem a bit much?” And that’s how it can get – too much. Sometimes what people really need is a hug and a sympathetic ear to listen to them.
So if any of this chimes then step back. Buy a festive hot chocolate and snaffle marshmallows. Think about what makes Christmas special for you. You might love the madness and it might be all of the above which is absolutely fine. It might be something small, something you’ve overlooked, like a song the family all sing together on Christmas Day (I’m thinking I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden here. Cough).
Do the sensible stuff, if you feel you can. Plan. Budget. There really is still time despite what advertisers would have you believe. Be honest with yourself and those around you about what you can afford and what you can cope with. This year I’m opting out of pre-paid set menus in expensive venues and having fish and chips on the seafront with friends. Brilliant!
Find a place of peace that allows you to breathe. Some madness can be exhilarating; too much might tip you into oblivion. Remember to care for yourself (and I’m not talking about the man buns and sequins here).
Just don’t forget to be.