Tits the season

The holiday season is stressful. From the spelling of “Christmas” to finding out what to do on New Year’s, it’s a mare. Even in a country that takes December as chilled as we do, the festive season takes it out of us. It’s shopping for presents, entertaining family, and being forced to attend a party we don’t want to attend, all to tire us the fuck out. And just in time to hate the new year before it even starts.

 

When you’re a kid, Christmas is awesome. You’ve been on holiday for a while, you get to put up decorations, and the end goal is in sight: presents. As you get older, you don’t go on holiday, you don’t want to put up decorations (nevermind other people’s decorations), and you find out presents don’t just appear or have some fat fuck bring them, you have to go buy them. In malls. Full of people. Egh.

 

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Get out the way

 

Christmas time itself is a bit shit and folks get way too impassioned about it. Anti-Christmasers bitch about the early decorating, and pro-Christmasers get elated by the same fact. The fact is that Christmas has been feeling less Chritmassy of late, and I think it has nothing to do with religion. I think we’ve finally realised that Christmas pop culture is shit. The music particularly. And I’m not talking the carols that somehow have a bit of Christmassy charm, but the tiny playlist of Christmas pop that is forced into our ears by Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Michael Bublé. Even John Lennon somehow got onto that wagon. Christmas movies, however, are generally pretty good. Who doesn’t want to curl up for an evening’s viewing of Eyes Wide Shut or Bad Santa? Not to mention the more canonical Gremlins or Die Hard. They almost make you forget about the fake snow in the 35 degree heat or creepy old bearded man touching your kids.

 

Until rather recently, this was all good and well and I was used to it. But by some kind of pre-Christmas miracle, this rabbit has been employed. This means I get to buy into the idea that I must work extra around holidays because a black and white paper enticed me to do so. How susceptible I am. And so, as skeleton staff are worked to the bone (ha) you finally get off work and have to go and shop at the mall. And the only thing more depressing than hitting a mall after work is being there when it closes and realising you haven’t got all of your gifts.

 

I come from a shit town where I fully underappreciated the notion of going to “the mall”. There was pretty much one. If what you were looking for wasn’t there, it’s likely that you plain and simple weren’t going to get that thing. How my parents did it I will never know. Because now there are many malls. And they are all far away. They all have similar shops, but not quite the same bouquet of shops. And each branch has different stock and fuck-all knowledge on what anybody else has. So, essentially, looking for one item can take you around 3 shopping malls only to find out it was discontinued. Such was my luck.

 

Most times I ended up in Sandton City, a pretty big mall. It is a bit larney, and the mall itself seemed to look at me and wonder if I was lost, offering me free parking if I get the hell out quick enough so as not to disturb the regulars. I got it back by shopping for specials and drawing penises in the pen test pads in their shops. But the mall itself is a labyrinth. So every time you think you’ve though found the clothing section, the shop you were actually looking for is on the other end, and when you tried to get back, the Hogwartsesque escalators have fucking changed sides and you end up in the food court. But you’ve been working so long that you need to get supper and you end up ordering a hot chicken tikka thing that you decide to eat there and this leads you to having a quiet cry in the middle of the food court on your own, like an angsty teen about to be made homecoming king a few scenes later.

 

This, in turn, causes you to go home and prepare for the next day. But deep inside, something is brewing. And you know every orifice is about to explode so putting loo paper in the fridge is not enough. You need your toothbrush in the freezer, condoms in the cooler box, and eye drops in liquid nitrogen to deal with the atomic clusterfuck that are your bowls. So much so that you are late for work, but luckily no one cares because ke December boss and everyone is either hungover, going on holiday, or half past giving a shit. Unlike you. And as much as you’ve enjoyed this fun and games, you now have to go back to the scene of the crime to shop even more. But hey, maybe that was just me.

 

Gifts are difficult things to get. As people get older, they can just buy the shit that they want. People with houses don’t wait until Christmas to buy kitchen appliances that they actually need. They just buy them. Because they need them. So you have to find people stuff that they want, but don’t need. Then when you ask people what they want they just say that they don’t want anything and go on their merry way like this was a selfless task. There is nothing more selfish than saying you want nothing for Christmas. You’re still going to get something, you’ve just decided to make it extra hard for the giver. So we go out looking for that special nothing, with expectations lowering each time you walk past the same shop. You don’t want to buy the worst present, but you also don’t want to spend too much money, but at the same time not much more or less money than other people did. But they’ve bought everything they need and said that there is nothing that they want but if that were true then you don’t need to spend money on anything and can just get the nothing they wanted. It’s a mess.

 

So you go to Typo, who have cornered the market in cool shit that you don’t need but may want, and hope you guys aren’t all buying the same shit and just doing a massive wrapped up trinket swap sponsored by the shop itself. But some presents just aren’t right. Secret Santa lists have a way of pairing you up with the most bizarre people and you know you can do better. So you haul ass to Rosebank because it has a lot of home stores and you still have Nando’s vouchers that expire in the new year that you aren’t letting go to waste. Before you know it, you’ve gone from Rosebank to the Zone Mall without fully knowing how you did it or if it was a desirable outcome. More home stores. More getting lost. More awkward mall poos. More dicks on desk pads. And finally you are finished. You get back home, collapse on the couch knowing that you have won, and then you are reminded: wrapping. All the effort you’ve gone to has to be hidden so it may be torn up for the sake of aesthetics. And if you think you own one of those scissors that glide through the wrapping paper, you can forget it. Once again, maybe just me.

 

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Some well-wrapped gifts

 

With the presents behind me (pasts?), I had taken for granted the logistics behind Christmas. Who is going where on what day with which family members. I have yet to fall prey to another human being so I don’t need to share my Christmases between families who pretend to like me, and those who can’t be arsed. Although sometimes I get the feeling that happens anyway. Also luckily, both sets of family are fairly near each other, so I get the full house. Between both sides I’ve had some real interesting times. All with the usual Christmas elements: too much booze, family disputes, gift mishaps, rich food, and tired people.

 

People give family a bad rap at Christmas, and they are no doubt a factor. Think Blink 182’s I Won’t be Home for Christmas “It’s Christmas time, again. It’s time to be kind to the people you can’t stand, all year. I’m growing tired of all this Christmas cheer. You people scare me. Please stay away from my home…”. But to argue against it, if you put any collection of people together at the end of the year, it’s going to be stressful. Think office Christmas parties, the mall over Christmas, or skeleton staff. Plus family are people you actually care about, so you can’t just chill out or tell people to fuck off.

 

But you do care about family, so houses are cleaned, smiles are dusted off with the Christmas hats, people tolerance goes up and alcohol tolerance down as you gather for the feast. Early days have you winging about the “kiddie table” (a practice that appears to have been done away with now that kiddie table kids have kids), then later you get to have champagne and a few Smirnoff Spins for the night. Ooo. Finally you get to the age where you can drink and are asked the questions that drive you to do so. My family used to take bets on who was going to get married next. This has stopped in recent years since they realised nobody will be around to cash in their winnings if I ever give in. But the best answer I ever saw was an older cousin who, upon being asked when he was going to get married, looked at his girlfriend next to him, and replied “When I meet the right girl”. (Today he is married. But not to her).

 

Then you finally get to hand out the presents. Different families refer to this in different ways, but my least favourite is “prize giving”. This sounds like you are being awarded for something. Presents are acknowledgement of survival of another festive season, and the ability to find shit that other people don’t need. And they begin. There always has to be a Santa on the one side, even though we are now all grown up, and yours truly is often given the task. Probably because I am the cheeriest one in the family. Sure, you can only do so many hoe hoe hoe jokes speaking about your sack and your package, but they’re usually a year apart so you can get away with them. On the other side, there is no Santa but kids have started to arrive. I realise what a shitty kid I was when I see how kids react to presents. Children were literally praying that each present was theirs as I read the tag, and then redistributed all the presents that went to him and his sister that became presents for both of them. Needless to say, the presents were played with on that day and not really seen again. I think I did similarly.

 

But the one thing I don’t understand is people who give gifts to animals. It’s an animal. Of course it hasn’t been good or bad, it’s an animal. Killing other animals and shitting on the floor is good to it. They also have no context of time. This is not Christmas to them. The indoor tree is confusing. If you really wanted your dog to have Christmas then you should do it 7 times a year. “T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for the one that you half ate and left in the living room. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, for every single Christmas, -cat, -dog, or -bear. The children were nestled all in their beds, Christmas beetles and jolly dust mites, crawled over their heads. And Mama in her ‘kerchief and I in my lap, had no other paper to clean the dog’s crap…” It gets silly, unreasonable, and simply mean when the cat doesn’t in fact get a partridge in a pear tree.

 

So Christmas is never boring. We all have those “Hugh Grant Christmases” (so named for turning out like a Hugh Grant movie). Were there’s a domestic down the passage, a crying fiancée, a sick daughter and a Welsh uncle threatening a sleeping daughter’s position in the family if he can’t name the song that he’s humming. But at least that doesn’t filter into religion. One side of my family is fairly religious and won’t allow the meal to start without a prayer. It is always asked who will pray, and when no one offers, it gets randomly assigned to the atheist members of the family and makes it awkward for everyone. The other side is just as bad, but in the opposite direction. There, they refuse to do any prayer or carol, but insisted on a minute’s silence the year Joe Cocker died. Then, in the interest of religious tolerance, my uncle got on the wine and decided to sing “Vishnu Wants Me for a Sunbeam”. If he had been left any longer, would probably have fashioned a Star of David out of incense sticks, and put it on the Christmas tree in the hopes that is magically evolved into something that could clean all of the party popper confetti on the floor.

 

And much like the way weddings bring out the worst in couples, Christmas tends to do the same with religion, for believers and non-believers.  There’s lots wrong with Christmas, but it’s stressful enough without people trying to convert, unconvert, and reconvert like some kind of student wall plug with a dangerous amount of  adapters. It’s just going to over-heat and everyone ends up stoned in the dark, with no toasted cheese. Tim Minchin has a pretty cool song called “White Wine in the Sun” about this. Sure, he Ricky Gervaises a bit (to Ricky Gervais is to become so whiny and preachy about religion that you undermine your own argument) but if anything it’s finally a song about a Southern Hemisphere Christmas. We are not huddled around the fire with eggnog, but we are drinking wine in the sun with family who both add and take away from the holidays at the same time. And that’s fucking awesome.

 

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Couldn’t keep Rudolf off the pole

 

Finally, looking to the New Year. Before we reflect on the year, we must first acknowledge how shit New Year’s parties actually are. (Especially if the people refer it as “Old Year’s Eve” which makes no fucking sense). All your friends are doing drugs at the coast and you’re stuck inland making a harder decision than Americans did a couple of months ago. I wrote this before this year’s party, but I’m going to assume it’s going to be relatively shitty. To mix things up, I’m going to try remember this one, although whether it will be memorable or not is yet to be seen. Most bars throw in some shiny plastic hats, get a second-rate band and charge you entrance because fuck you. One day I will throw the house party to end all parties. But today is not that day.

 

Right, so 2016 was shit. It was horse shit. But at least you can take comfort in one fact: 2017 is going to be worse. Everyone had some personal shit this year that didn’t go too groovily for them. I was unemployed for a lot of it, and even though I was overseas for some time, this fucks with your head. Whatever hand you were dealt this year, you have my sympathies. These tend to blindside us, and everyone deserves some kind of pat on the back for not offing themselves in times like these. Keep trucking.

 

But let’s look at why people hated 2016. For a start Harambe. A dead gorilla that people sent hand-written cards to. Yes, that’s right. A gorilla, that is an animal that cannot read. And death, that is something that ensures you can do nothing else in this life. The combination of those two things got more cards from people who otherwise didn’t know it than you did from people you did know on your birthday. So take that in. The funny thing is that the amount of people making dead Harambe jokes and the amount of people that claimed to be genuinely saddened by the passing of martyr of guerrilla warfare, both seem suspiciously high. Like there’s a large number of people in both circles of that Venn diagram. Shaded-in shady folk. And if you think people are going to stop using social media to play selective moral high ground while still sharing memes, you’re an idiot. (Case in point the recent thing of tagging your mate on an ugly person’s picture. As if no other meme is mean to someone).

 

Next were the votes. People who lost the votes were devastated that the votes didn’t go their way. Well of course. That’s what happens when you vote. I don’t agree with either major international outcome, but they were voted in. I have my own beliefs but I couldn’t vote. South Africa had a major vote and a lot of people thought it went a lot better. For them. People on the other side disagreed. That’s what the vote was for. And if you think people are going to agree with you for the rest of your life, you’re also an idiot. And newsflash: like him or not, Trump and his party are conservative. That means in the upcoming year, a lot of conservative shit is going to go down. This should not be a surprise. Iran, France, and Germany are having big elections in 2017. And even though you took BuzzFeed’s Check Who You Should Vote For! quiz, it doesn’t mean you can actually vote, you know what’s going on, or that the thing you support will be passed. Educate yourself by all means, and be passionate in your beliefs, but just know that votes don’t go the way you want, or the way the press tells you it will.

 

Lastly, the dead celebrities. People you have never met turning into people you will never meet. Now 2016 does seem to have an unusually high number, but after checking some articles out it became clear that this is because we just know a lot more famous people. TV, film, and radio blowing up years ago, and the more recent social media means we know more people than ever. And the more people we know about, the more we know that will die. Think about how many names you know in a 30 Seconds deck. The alive ones have to die sometime. It is not a positive thing, it is a very sad thing. And perhaps reflecting on them reinforces the impact they had on our lives (if any). But it’s still a thing and will keep being a thing.

 

So 2017 is going to be worse. Why? People on social media and media on social people mainly. The only way the world will get better is if people learn shit and be cool. But mainly be cool. I mean like super cool. If shit gets hectic try be as cool as me. But since nobody is ever as cool as me, this will be useless and the world will spiral down into its inevitable doom. Be cool anyway.

 

So this may be a really roundabout way of saying this, but what I’m, trying to say is that I really like the festive season. Love it. Family is a pain, but they are there. I owe more to family this year than I have my whole life. My family have housed me all over the world, given me resources to start a job, and food to survive. Family is awesome. Family members aren’t always awesome but family is. Even the ones that need to back the fuck up about the marriage questions. It comes from a good place (the questions, not marriage. Marriage comes from a shit place). Christmas is fun. Presents are a pain to buy and festive things repetitive and silly, and perhaps inaccurate, but I like it. Every year Christmas feels less Christmassy I get a bit upset. And it’s about being festive, not religious. I enjoy scaring off epileptics with flashing lights in an already lit room, and wrapping things I don’t like in things I don’t care for, so people I do like can pretend to care for the things I spent a stupid amount of time and probably not a proportionate amount of money on. I like the laziness between the holidays. Watching test cricket is the tits. Not waking up early is awesome. Christmas meals in all their richness, are fantastic. Although, not unlike your girlfriend, it’s only awesome the first time and by the 10th cold turkey roll you want to tear out your tongue. New year’s, the definition of partying for the sake of partying, is just that. You suck it up, you go out, and you complain. But it’s better to complain about something than it is about nothing. And finally, you know the new year is going to be shit. So enjoy the unshit moments. If your resolution is anything more complicated than “be cool” then you are wrong.

 

Because the festive season may be kak, but it gets a lot better when you don’t shit where you eat.

 

Rabbit out.

 

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