Stop.

For fuck's sake.
To the Galleries; get your balls out of my face.

There seem to be several versions of Christmas nowadays but, unfortunately, we’ve decided, as a society, to only truly embrace the most irritating one.
The first version, arguably the most obvious one, is the religious one. This is a twelve day long Christian festival ending on Candlemas in the new year and is a celebration of the birth of their messiah. It’s a pretty big deal for them, almost as big a deal as Easter but not quite. This Christmas fell by the wayside some time ago though, which is fine, the world has moved on and Christianity doesn’t play nearly such an important role in British life as it used to.
The second version is the secular version. This is an eight day long drunken mess beginning on Christmas eve and running on to New Year’s day. The idea is to give and receive gifts amongst friends and family while spending some precious time with them as the days become very short. Families get together, eat an enormous home cooked meal and generally enjoy the time off work. Friends are often visited at this time of year as well, and pubs and nightclubs are frequented at the later, more frenzied end of it. I quite like this version, it has moved on from its Christian roots but maintained the iconography of a bygone era. This is no bad thing, you can even quite easily combine it with the religious version if that’s your idea of a good time. Also there are mince pies, those things are fantastic.
The version our society most openly and aggressively celebrates, though, is the capitalist Christmas. The two and a half month long bludgeoning of gaudy music, mandatory jolliness and repellent decorations that you are forced in to and surrounded by for week after week regardless of your feelings on the matter. On the fourth of November, almost a week ago, before bonfire night, fifty one days before Christmas day, I was travelling back from Whitby Gothic Weekend (which was awesome and you should go there if you get the chance) when we stopped at a service station and I witnessed the staff at a well known coffee chain wearing company issued reindeer horns and heard festive music. I was, much to my shame (and, look, I never shop in chain coffee shops but there’s nothing else on motorways and I badly needed to stay awake, I know it’s not a good enough excuse but it was that or fall asleep and get lost) in the queue before I noticed this abominable behaviour and, due to the lingering effects of several days of shamefully heavy drinking, said the word ‘no’ rather more loudly than I intended and wandered off.
That was the first part, the first time I was made to feel like a spoilsport for not getting in to the spirit of the thing and it was FIFTY ONE DAYS TOO EARLY. There have been other instances between then and now but today I went in to town and… good Gods. It is the thirteenth of November, it is a month and a half before Christmas day and it’s everywhere. I first noticed it when I got off the bus and took a rather circuitous route to my destination and I came across a massive Bavarian Christmas market. Now, don’t get me wrong, if it was merely a Bavarian winter market that would be fine but, unfortunately, there are baubles and tinsel and a massive rotating nativity scene with jingly, jolly fucking music playing out of it. Images of the whitest man born in Palestine two thousand years ago assault my eyes along with possessed Christmas elves smiling with dead eyed malevolence from an enormous advent calendar placed in the middle of things seventeen days before advent begins.
For a short while I took shelter in a coffee shop and guzzled a little more caffeine than is strictly reasonable with a friend before he went to work and I set off again. Wary of the Christmas market, but unable to avoid it completely, I went to the Galleries, a dreary, dying shopping Mall in the middle of Bristol. I had hoped they wouldn’t have the budget to hurl baubles and enforced merriment all over the place already but, of course, I was wrong. There is a grotto in the middle of it all already. There are molten faced, deformed gargoyles around it who shake their heads from side to side while making their toys for the sleigh riding, present distributing, insane overlord triumphantly sailing overhead. I made haste to get away but, to my horror, there was fucking tinsel in every shop window, vast baubles dangling from the ceiling and no end in sight. As I fled through Cabot Circus, the only slightly better performing other shopping Mall in the centre of Bristol, I swiftly strolled past Christmas trees and heard carols playing from shops while their staff grinned painfully through their mandatory merriment. There are enormous, gaudy, dangling decorations and shiny, bright lights bloody everywhere. I’d have more respect for it if it was done in the middle of July, at least that would be interestingly transgressive, but instead it’s just a constant barrage of jangly, disjointed solemnity hastily crowbarred in to gaudy, tacky brainlessness for the sake of pushing more unnecessary crap on to you forever. For Gods’ sake, two months is too damn long, it’s one sixth of the year and nobody’s willing to reign in this all consuming, constant, isolating, dreary trudge in to exhausting, thought policing oblivion because speaking out about it makes you some sort of Scrooge-like joyless villain. Already some of you reading this are thinking I’m some sort of spoilsport or that it doesn’t harm anybody; you’re wrong. I don’t want to spend a sixth of my life in Christmas, it’s too bloody much. You’re upset or unhappy?  Stop it, it’s Christmas, why don’t you join in with everybody else.  People say that and think that it somehow doesn’t make you feel worse.  The expectation is too high, the cloying, forceful, mawkish march towards Christmas ruins the day itself because by the time it rolls around it’s just another day surrounded by irritating music, images of snowy, whitewashed nativity scenes and tedious earnestness. The food is too much, the pressure to be happy is too much, the films are worse, the music is a crime against humanity, the colour scheme is another atrocity and the expectation that you take part for the whole thing for two full months is far too bloody much to bear. Stop it. Just… fucking stop.

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