Christmas is a voice in my head singing softly: “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”
Whether you believe in Santa or Jesus or couldn’t care less, I think there’s something transcendent about being trapped by the omnipresent opening synth of “Last Christmas”. It’s great synth-pop, simple yet effective melody. Yet, it’s also awful and intrusive synth-pop that finds me every single year and asks me what’s changed and what I’ve accomplished since the last time I heard it’s opening riff.
The Ghost of Christmas Past exists and we meet him every year. Maybe you’ve met him outside Brown Thomas, flooding you with all the merry versions of yourself standing there before, you’re drinking hot chocolate, you’re with your pals and have just bought your girlfriend something in Lush. Maybe that’s a version of your life you’ll never get back, which I think can make Christmas a real test of character.
I remember my first day back at work after the holidays in January. The radio told me that the very Monday I’d gone back to work was the busiest day of the year for solicitors. Why? Everybody wants to get divorced! Then they played “Blue Monday” – simply brilliant.
It’s a time in the year when your life is really put on a stage. You have to sum up your love life, your college career and general overall well-being to your drunk aunty in 30 seconds – GO! Luckily that familiar old synth-pop drones out the sound of your voice and she can’t hear you, and you’re once again relieved to agree with her that you’ve gotten taller.
You have to sum up your love life, your college career and general overall well-being to your drunk aunty in 30 seconds – GO!
I think the trick with the Ghost of Christmas Past is remembering that the hot chocolate you had outside Brown Thomas on a mobbed Grafton Street on December 23rd last year probably scalded your tongue and you got no likes on that Instagram post. A lot of Christmas is as thrilling and guileless as the Coca-Cola ad might make you think, but no one likes to reminisce on panic-buying presents for a distant relative or losing your will to live in a supermarket queue.
I know that it may not be quite so easy when your association with Christmas is not as trivial as an over-sweetened hot drink or an underperforming collection of film photos. There’s nothing that can compare with the death of a loved one and seeing their empty seat at the dinner table. Christmas may feel like a time of love and happiness, but loss and memories of it too can rear their heads for families at this time of year.
That’s why I’m not quite ready to meet the Ghost of Christmas Future. Even in the best of times, where you find yourself sitting around a meal and counting every one of your blessings with your friends, you still know that no matter how hard you try to soak it all up, one day you’ll hold a photo of it’s beauty and feel that same seasonal melancholy again.
Christmas may feel like a time of love and happiness, but loss and memories of it too can rear their heads for families at this time of year
I’ve never been particularly pious, but this is my first Christmas without going to mass. I have visions of my sister and I turning off Back to the Future and walking up the town – thinking of Santa, taller every year, wearing hats, getting older, surpassing my sister’s height all while walking up the same road to meet my family at mass.
When I was little, as you might have guessed, I was thinking of Santa for pretty much the entirety of Christmas. Now that I’m older, (regardless of whether this has something to do with capitalism), Christmas for me is about the face you’d make at someone when you’ve given them something you knew they’d really like and you’re too Irish and Catholic to tell them how much you really love them.
It’s about indulging in the wine with the nice shade of blue and silently, nearly telepathically whispering to the people you love that you’ll cherish this moment forever. It’s too late to turn back now: Christmas will find us every year with that same unstoppable melancholy. The only thing I think we can do is iron our shirts for good photos with the best friends we have and prepare ourselves for the longing of our youth. Happy Christmas.