I don't like Christmas very much. That's like swearing at small children really, in most peoples eyes. But really, I am not keen on Christmas and look forward to January 2nd each festive season when I can start the year afresh, with gusto and enthusiasm. Look, I'm not a Scrooge, I join in, I do all I'm supposed to - and I expect that's where the problem lies. Most of us do Christmas because that's what we do. We all eat practically the same stodgy, excessive food and then moan about it in January, we all drink too much and then moan about it in January, the children receive too many gifts and say they are bored in January, we all feel stressed about family/money/the perfect day - and then say we never doing that again, in January.
Two Christmas's stand out to me in my life, all the other 37 are one mass of mince pies and turkey, indistinguishable from each other. One year my Mum and her friend rented a little cottage on Dartmoor, freezing cold and old as the moors themselves. I can't even remember if we had a tree. I do remember waking up on Christmas morn to frozen patterns on the inside of the windows and opening a few pressies in -10C in the lounge. So Mum and her friend said lets go for a walk to warm up. There is this odd little hobby of letter boxing on Dartmoor, where you hunt for hidden boxes containing a rubber stamp and a notebook to write your names in. It was so much fun and kept us happily walking the moors for what seemed like hours, wanting to collect as many rubber stamps as possible. And then if my memory serves me, we had a drink in a pub, by a fire and it was cosy. And then we came back to the cold cottage, fed the electricity meter with pound coins and all had baked potatoes and mushy peas for Christmas dinner - there was an option of baked beans for those who didn't partake in the peas.
The other Christmas which stands out for me was one spent in The Gambia, West Africa. It's a Muslim country predominantly. On Christmas Eve we all got absolutely wasted on warm Guinness to the sound of cicadas and croaking toads. I was staying on a boat that Christmas and woke up with dried dribble on my chin and sweating profusely as the sun beamed through the sky light. I was so hungover on Christmas day I couldn't eat and spent most of it swinging in a hammock between the masts of the yacht. And then I went back to bed and it was all over for another year.