I do wonder if it was my decision to avoid the torture and expense of the "work Xmas do"? I rarely enjoy it, and don't really get on with many of the other staff outside work (with one or two exceptions, but they also often avoid such nights out). I can be a little more outspoken after a drink or two, and have made the gut wrenching mistake of being a little bit too honest with some of my work colleagues in the past ("No, I won't kiss you because you are a complete twat!" is one of my favourites). And no matter what does actually happen there is always the rumour mill working over time and awful drunken photographs on Facebook following the event. This year I decided I couldn't be arsed. So booked to see Pappy's the week before Christmas, and the The Quireboys supported by Wolfsbane on the Saturday before. Great nights out, but they did lack (and rightly so) any festive spirit.
I also hate to admit it, but as much as we all despise the Christmas decorations going up in shops really early; when I used to work in a shop it drove me insane (with the endless Christmas music) but at the same time it did wear me down and get me into the Christmas spirit (eventually). Now working in a mental health unit it is not the same. The wards do put up a few decorations, but this seems inappropriate in my department, people are not well and certainly not happy (or they would not be there). Don't get me wrong the ward staff try to make things as nice as possible for inpatients on Christmas day, but it is far from a happy or festive place. I have realised today that there seems to be another not so nice trend; for the last three years I have returned from a couple of days of for Christmas to hear bad news (a patient I know being readmitted or relapsing/an incident/a suicide). It is part and parcel of the job, unfortunately, maybe my subconscious now remembers and dreads the post Christmas news?
I think the one last part of the puzzle for my lack of Christmas spirit is that I don't have any children. To me it is a time for children to celebrate and learn new traditions (with or without religion involved), they have the wonder and excitement which I have now lost. Luckily I did have a few of these moments of joy spending time with my nieces and nephews. However, one of our family traditions has managed to suck the joy from this too. We all meet at my Mum's house on Boxing day for "meat and mash", it is a bit of an all day buffet and has always been fun. Last year and this year things changed. I'm not sure if it was due to me being ill both years (yes, really ill not just hungover - last year with tonsilitus, this year a rotten cold) or just the general chaos and noise. The children are no longer cute little babies that we can pass around for a cuddle, but all toddlers or older, all demanding attention fuelled by the sugar and gifts. Even Mum hid in the kitchen with me as we plotted ways of escaping her house without anyone noticing. It didn't work, our plans were foiled.
I don't want to be un-festive next year. I have decorated my tree, but maybe I need to have a proper think about what makes me not only in the Christmas spirit but also happy to be so. I need to plan my Christmas as a celebration of what is important to me (and yes include family - just not all at once). I can't simply be too old to enjoy Christmas any more (I'm only 29!).