We’re primarily a film based site and, sure enough, most of the articles here are related to films; new films, old favourites, comparisons of remakes, looking back and reappraising, and general opinion pieces. But the other week I wrote something that wasn’t about any particular film. Rather, it was about what goes on inside my addled mind when I write a review. The response was amazing and RunPee Towers was showered in letters and, after I’d answered them both, I thought I’d try writing something else. Let’s just call it “How A Cinephile Celebrates Christmas.”
I know there are people out there who start frothing at the mouth when you mention something like Christmas. One extreme is overly sensitive to the needs of non-Christians — whether the non-Christians in question feel those needs or not. The other extreme starts getting rabid because their holiday is being denied to them because of some unspecified over-attention to what someone else might be held to be thinking, whether those thoughts had or not even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing anyone’s mind.
I’ll just come out and say it… I now enjoy Christmas. I still can’t open Christmas cards, but I do now have an ever-loving wife to do it for me.
Joy To The World?
There were times in my life that I didn’t particularly like Christmas. It can’t be said to be the fault of the holiday — just a combination of circumstances that came to a head one Christmas Day in my thirties, and soured things for the middle decade of my life. Still, other people were happy, because there was always someone available to cover holiday shifts!
But now I’m happier over Christmas; children and, ultimately, grandchildren have turned things around for me, and now I’m more like Scrooge on Christmas Day rather than Scrooge on Christmas Eve!
I class the beginning of December as the time when it is appropriate to start watching Christmas films. It’s still way too early to put decorations up or anything, but definitely time to start looking through whatever films I’ve got available, and if there are any I feel I need to get. I must point out that I’m now happily retired and free of having to work during Advent.
Well, my work now consists of preparing a nutritious yet savoury meal for the current Mrs Williams to come home and eat but, other than that, my time is my own.
Be Here All The Earlier Next Morning!
I suppose an argument could be made that writing these articles is work, but I prefer to think of them as a kind of hobby; I do it because I enjoy it and if someone else does too, then that’s a bonus. It also saves me having to think of something to say to make me sound a bit less like I’m just passing the time, staring at the TV. When someone asks how my day went I can say, “Very well, thank you. I managed to write three articles,” which sounds a lot better than “I spent the day watching films and tapping away on my laptop.”
And so I’ve found myself something to do even during a lockdown! I get sent links or ideas, and I’ll watch a film or two, and then write a couple of hundred hopefully interesting or amusing words about them.
So how do I know when to stop and relax for Christmas?
Usually when I start getting ideas and links that are non-Christmassy, and so intended for the new year. I’ll probably slow down a bit then, as we’ll probably be in the last week or so before Christmas.
I usually spend the days running up to Christmas in a kind of vaguely organised panic. By that, I mean I’m vaguely organised, but there’s still a panic going on. I’m vaguely organised because I’ll have identified — if not actually bought everything needed for the big day — presents, food, drinks, etc. The panic arises on two fronts: 1, have I remembered everything and, 2, where the hell did I put the stuff I bought in April when I was being organised and saw it was on sale? I know it’s somewhere safe…
And, before you know it, it’s Christmas Eve. I like to have something that I need to get on Christmas Eve, because there’s usually a nice atmosphere in the shops… actually, it’s usually a heady combination of sweat, panic, and desperation. My first father-in-law was a farmer and, after he retired, still insisted on a fresh, not frozen, female, M&S turkey. I can still remember arriving at the car park overlooking the Merseyway Precinct, and quietly despairing at the length of the queue outside Marks and Spencer’s. The only thing I always make sure I’ve got sorted is streaky bacon and cocktail sausages; my granddaughter loves homemade pigs in blankets and I usually end up making triple figures worth of them for her.
No More Work Tonight
There’s something blissful about Christmas Eve evening. You can assume a fatalistic air of “Ah well, bugger it… the shops are shut now, so if we haven’t got it we’ll have to do without.” I do sometimes ignore that shops don’t actually close just to get the right level of relaxation, without self-medicating with supplies from the off-licence.
Christmas Eve is when It’s A Wonderful Life is watched. There might be other films watched; it might be the only one, but it does get watched. I’m delighted that my local cinema (The Light in New Brighton, if you’re interested) has started showing It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve around lunch time. They have stacks of free mince pies on the way in and it’s a wonderful atmosphere in there.
Then it is evening time. There is the sinking dread of realising there are still presents to wrap. A decent Sellotape dispenser is a lifesaver here. Add to that you should try and make sure all the presents you have to wrap come in cuboid boxes, or are books. But there are always plenty of Christmas films to watch while you are wrapping, along with little things to nibble and soothing things to sip. If the gemütlichkeit isn’t swimming through your veins by now, then maybe New Year is your thing!
Best wishes to everyone and let us hope 2021 is a better year for us all!
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!