Let's Not This Year

christmas-decorations25Let's Not This Year

Okay, let's get this straight. I like Christmas. I love mulled wine and eggnog, candy canes, crackling fires and the smell of evergreen boughs. If I find the perfect gift for someone, I can't wipe the goofy grin off my face. And I've always agreed that covering everything with glittery lights during the darkest time of the year, or any time of year, is a very, very good idea.

But sometimes I wish I had a choice.

Decorations were appearing in Heathrow airport at the end of October. The lights went up on Grafton Street here in Dublin two weeks later. Metal rods groaned and creaked above us as grim men on ladders assembled the festive display. I glanced at the passive and disconsolate faces of the other people watching. 'Already?' someone muttered. 'Again?'

Well, to be fair, that someone was probably me. But the point is, the lights were up and no one was exactly doing the happy dance in anticipation. It felt more like an edict issued from some shadowy seat of power. You have forty days. Get out there and spend. Now.

Jingle bells stickersThese days I'm fighting for time away from work so I can get back to writing. Now there's all this Christmas busyness getting in the way. Scrambling for gifts in crowded shops. Cleaning and organising, cooking and planning. Furiously scrawling messages of joy into cards. Wrestling with wrapping paper and dragging packages off to the post office. Is it really necessary? Why do people put themselves through this?

Or let's ask the real question. Why do women put themselves through this? Most men I know don't seem to notice or care about Christmas. 'Off to buy gifts,' my fella might say, sometime around the 23rd. See? He doesn't care. And he's happy.

Could it be that easy? Think of what you could do with all that extra, peaceful Solstice time while everyone else is rushing around.

Try it. Have a half-arsed Christmas. (Or a half-arsed Hanukah, or any kind of half-arsed seasonal celebration you like.) But don't do this because you're disorganised and wanted something better. Embrace half-arsedness. After all, even the three wise men didn't get their act together and show up with the gifts until little Jesus was almost three. If you'd like to follow in their footsteps, here are some suggestions.


You know what people don't need? Christmas baubles and do-dads. Perfume. Calendars. Sweaters with Rudolph on them. More clutter.

You know what almost everyone needs, especially at this expensive time of year? Money. It's available from any ATM and it fits every size. Just figure out how much you were going to spend on someone, pop the amount into a card, give them a big kiss and say, 'I love you. Here's some cash. Merry Christmas.' Do you really think anyone's going to be disappointed?

If you have kids, it's even better. 'Santa's tired this year, sweetie. You're going to be his elf. Here's the biggest amount of cash you've ever held in your tiny hands. Let's go to your favourite toy store and you can choose whatever you want.' Again, worrying about spoiling the surprise is going to be the last thing on their minds. Then just plunk the purchases in gift bags and forget about them until the 25th. Nothing easier.Btown hall


This could actually work in your favour. If you're like me, you usually try to get the place spotless and organised before a single twist of holly adorns your room. But this year is going to be different. Instead, use the decorations to hide what you don't want to see. If the living room's a nightmare of clutter and cat hair, cover the whole thing with tinsel, garlands, red and green throws, anything. Keep it up there till the spring. Or, hell, leave it till next year and just add another layer. It'll lend your abode an air of mystery. What is under there, exactly? You'll never know for sure. Put the wonder and magic back into Christmas.

The Tree

Nothing says 'I'm the aristocrat at the top of this ecosystem' with more arrogance than using an entire tree as a decoration and then throwing it in the trash. Buy a nice picture of a tree instead, or one of those pre-decorated jobbies that stand about two feet high, preferably one that changes colours when you plug it in. Your kids don't care about anything besides what's under it, and you won't be spending Christmas mentally going through the logistics of how you're going to take it down and remember which boxes all the little stupid hanging dohickeys and gee-gaws go in. Plus you saved a tree. From the embarrassment of standing in your living room shedding needles until April.


Oh, don't make me come over there. Nobody does cards anymore unless they're running for office. Except maybe me, and I intend to cut out that nonsense right away. Post a picture of a snowman or something on Facebook so everybody can 'like' it. There. A lovely Christmas image for your whole family and everyone you've known since birth to enjoy. Magic.

The Dinner

One word. One beautiful, hyphenated word. Take-out.

There! You're done. Now you can have a snowball fight, go to the pub, take some time for yourself and write something.

Have a real holiday.  A happy one. Please.

Merry Half-Arsed Seasonal Joy to one and all!





Btown hall

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