When our Christmas tree goes up, epileptics beware. Gaudy baubles in colours reminiscent of Mardi Gras unapologetically fail to match, and are set off like distress flares when the fairy lights go on. I draw the line at asbestos-based toxic “snow” of the ilk available at BudgetLand stores, but everything else is fair game. In glorious homage to Grateful Dead psychedlia, our tree shines forth and good times abound. The neighbours would be impressed if only they weren’t blinded by their own beacon-like efforts.
But in amongst this psychedelic rainbow is one tree that’s less up for it. Every street has one. Sporting uniform baubles hung with Germanic precision and tastefully garnished with tinsel and lights, this is a tree boasting department store aspirations decorated by owners misguidedly holding taste above fun.
Do people fear that succumbing to Yuletide decor of questionable taste will somehow taint their “normal” lives? Like the Griswold’s neighbours Todd and Margot, do they fail to see that this is the one time of year when bad taste is expected and actively encouraged?
Erecting a dead tree in the living room and covering all those dry brittle needles with highly-flammable fairy lights is about as far away from “cool” and “tasteful” as anyone who works at Radio 1. So why fight against it?
Sexing up Christmas in the name of good taste only serves to put everyone else on the defensive. People feel they must justify why the cat is wearing a Santa suit despite it being, obviously, because it’s Fun.
Similarly, there is nothing cool or fun about falsely proclaiming ‘Fairytale of New York’ to be your favourite Christmas tune of all time. Favourite festive hits are seeds planted in us as kids and which grow with us into adulthood. Then every December, like glam rock time capsules, they appear to transport us back to Christmases past when it always snowed and Santa was real.
‘Fairytale of New York’ certainly is a cool Christmas classic, but is it the stuff of childhood memories? Was it really the soundtrack to festive holidays? Or is it the gloss with which you cover the truth, knowing perfectly well there’s no way you’re going to admit to liking “Mistletoe and Wine’? Nothing cool about Cliff, but there’s even less that’s cool about Yuletide lying.
Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ was delivered to me on 7″ vinyl, along with a record player, by the red man himself on Christmas Day 1984. On Christmas Night my brother burst into tears because I’d been playing it all day. Every time it plays, I’m back there once more…as is my brother. It’s my favourite Christmas tune. I won’t lie, and neither should you.
Presents are another thing that can be twisted into some form of Christmas cool that just doesn’t work. Christmas gifts are not a medium through which to introduce people to concepts like Postmodern Irony. Your 12-year-old cousin will feel unsettled and confused as to why she didn’t get that Little Mix CD and spend the rest of the day avoiding you. As will everyone else.
Viewing tissue-paper hats as a personal attack on your image, sighing the answer to the cracker joke with a pantomime-esque eyebrow-raise to the heavens, and saying “No thank you, I’m full” in a manner reminiscent of “Bah humbug” when offered yet another turkey sandwich are other ‘cool’ behaviours guaranteed to be met with cooler responses.
Christmas is no time for cool. It’s a time for celebrating and unity through naff jumpers and lyrically-questionable tunes, of washing down the best part of a box of Celebrations with a reindeer-shaped mug of mulled wine, and of bright lights and crap jokes and fun.There is nothing fun about disparagement towards paper hats, or about pretending Wham!’s “Last Christmas” isn’t your favourite Christmas hit even though you’re a 28-year-old heterosexual male. And there is definitely nothing fun about making everyone who did say yes to yet more food feel gluttonous about it.
Come the day itself I encourage everyone to cast off any aspirations of cool. That’s for January and the rest of the year. Instead, embrace Christmas for what it is. Dress your tree up like a drag queen whilst listening to Wizzard and wearing confidently-patterned knit-wear, and I guarantee your Christmas will be all the cooler for it.