Although the idea of Christmas is lovely ~ of inclusive peace on earth and goodwill to all [wo]men ~ we currently find ourselves bombarded from all sides by television advertisements showing perfect Christmas families enjoying that perfect day. If you're a little lonely, unpopular, distraught or otherwise imperfect in any way at this time of year, it can somewhat magnify itself in the reflection of the tinsel lying around about, can't it?
And then you have to go shopping.
If you're one of those who detest Christmas and its plastic-filled veneration of consumerism and winter while it's summer, then take heart - you are not alone. There are many of us, lurking in the corners away from the mistletoe, feeling like losers.
And so if you find yourself grinding your teeth at the approaching festivities, here are a few ideas to ponder:
This is probably a little counterintuitive if you are a Christmas Grinch. But hosting lunch or dinner is a lovely way to dispel the strange empty feeling in your chest and replace it instead with the warmth that comes from being kind and generous and hosty and feeding your family.
If visions of apprehended violence orders rather than sugar plums dance in your head at the thought of all-day closeness to your family, then how about hosting Christmas Day for people who are not your family? Throw open your doors to friends, and their friends, and the homeless dude in the city. I have often thought I would love to do this but so far have not had the guts. Do let me know if you do.
Nick Off My partner and I disappeared last year on 20th December and did not resurface until 27th December. We stayed in a house in the middle of nowhere where we had to drive 10 minutes to get mobile phone or internet reception. It was a brilliant and inspired idea and, apart from disappointing certain family members, will be something we shall do again. Probably next year.
Volunteer Volunteering at a soup kitchen has been another thing I've wanted to do on Christmas Day but haven't yet. And apparently I'm not alone - according to the OurCommunity website, "demand for volunteer roles often strips supply at this time of year". Which is really very cool. So perhaps volunteer on Boxing Day or 23rd December instead and on the day.
Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo, and Healesville Sanctuary are all open - Zoo.org.au.
So too is the Phillip Island Nature Park from 2 pm (the penguins not knowing any difference) - Penguins.org.au.
Stay Home What more delicious naughtiness could there be than resigning and curling up all day in bed with a pile of books and the remote control and a box of chocolates?
However, if the guilt overwhelms you, you could always decide beforehand to have your own version of Christmas on a day less inclined to make you feel crap - say, on the winter solstice on 21 June, or on 17th July or 9th February.
Give Goats and Wells Instead of Plasticness
If you have not yet reached the epitome of Grinchness and still give presents, you can at least lighten the load by giving something to Auntie Doris that she will remember for far longer than if you buy her that pointless piece of rubbish over there because you can't think what the hell else to buy someone who has everything anyway.
Places like Oxfam and websites like Charity Gifts mean that the pressie you're buying will warm both the hearts of you and Auntie Doris.
Whatever way you do it, if the silly season leaves you crampy, just remember - you're not alone, nothing lasts forever, and that Jesus probably would have hated Christmas too.