My best Christmas was when I was 5 years old. I still thought Santa Clause was real and would you believe it, he bought me a shiny new bike. I often wonder how I could have been so foolish as to believe in Santa, but when you go to bed on Christmas Eve, excited about the gifts that await you, and you wake up the next morning to find a new bicycle has magically appeared under the Christmas tree, then it’s quite easy. After all, how else would the bike appear if it wasn’t for Santa?
For a few years I continued to go to bed, unable to sleep due to excitement. I’d wake my parents up at 4am on Christmas morning, drag them downstairs and find the living room filled with presents. At the top of my lungs I would shout “MAM! MAM! SANTA’S BEEN!” Christmas was the best time of the year, no school, numerous toys and all the food you could eat. There’s a song that goes “I wish it could be Christmas every day…” and I would literally wish that would happen. I used to close my eyes and wish I’d go to sleep and it would be Christmas all over again the next day. And the next. And the next.
Then one year, my world was shattered. It was lunchtime at school and I was standing in the queue with my friend, talking with excitement about what I hoped Santa would be brining me. An older child turned to me, a smug grin on his face. “You do know that Santa doesn’t exist, right?” I was disappointed, but for some reason I wasn’t surprised, maybe deep down I always knew he didn’t really exist, but the pleasure of pretending he did was overpowering? It was not so much that I believed, but that I wanted to believe.
I looked at the older boy, with a straight face, and not wanting to seem like I wasn’t in on the secret I nodded to him “of course I know Santa doesn’t exist!” The words hurt as they came out of my mouth.
From then on Christmas changed. I was no longer the child that dreams of Santa’s gifts. I was now a greedy consumerist whore. If Santa didn’t bring me everything I wanted, that was fine, he had to deliver presents to every kid in the world, if he forgot a few things off my list then it was understandable. But if my parents didn’t give me everything I wanted. Well, that’s different isn’t it? They only have one child to deliver to. Me! So where the hell is the Lego set I wanted?! Why don’t I have my Lego set!? Give me my God damn LEGO SET!
Still, for years onwards Christmas was exciting. Even without Santa there was a bounty of presents and fun to be had. I still couldn’t sleep at night because I knew that tomorrow I’d be ripping wrapping paper off my presents and playing with my new toys.
Then finally I was old enough to get a job, which was old enough to buy any present I wanted for myself, any time I wanted. Yet even then, Christmas was still fun. I was still that consumerist whore. As long as I was still receiving gifts then Christmas was meaningful. There was still excitement left because I was still getting stuff. Everybody wants more stuff! It makes us happy!
Time moved on. I slowly started to realise that stuff doesn’t make us happy after all. Material possessions are worthless. When you’re on your deathbed, do you think back to every TV you’ve owned and say “man, my life was good, I once owned a 70 inch plasma.” I doubt it. Instead you think back on every friend you’ve had and every person you’ve loved. Every happy moment. That’s what I hope anyway.
Despite all this, Christmas has still been alive in me. I’ve still bought gifts for my friends. Still enjoyed the process of Christmas somewhat. This year though something changed.
For the past few years my friend and I have always had the same conversation leading up to Christmas. We moan about how hard it is to buy gifts for people, how we have no ideas. Eventually this leads to us buying “drawer presents” for people. What’s a “drawer present”? Well, you know when you get a present from somebody, you use it once, then it ends up sitting at the bottom of your drawer, for years, completely unused? That’s a drawer present. It’s something that is almost completely useless, a waste of money. You buy it for a friend just because you have to buy them something. They buy you one too, because they have to buy you something too.
For my friend and I, the majority of things are drawer presents. Only two things aren’t. Clothing and books. We both know clothing is something we’d rather buy ourselves, because then we get something we like. So, we could buy each other books? But there’s a problem…my friend just bought a Kindle. Mother fu-
So we decided that this year, instead of buying gifts, we’d just go out for a meal to a restaurant. No cards. No gifts. Just food. Normal food. Like any other week. We have officially outgrown Christmas. I no longer wish it could be Christmas every day. But that doesn’t matter, there may be no more gifts, but there’s still friends and that was all that really mattered anyway, right?