There is a thud on the mat this morning. Along with the bills and junk is a big creamy envelope, handwritten, with a Scottish postmark. God, I love it when the post is exciting. Something special from a secret Scottish admirer, I think. I open it carefully, close my eyes and pull it out. You know what it is? It is an advent calendar in the shape of Father Christmas from my aunt's Lurcher.
No, no, no! It was supposed to be an airline ticket with a quick scribbled note, saying "come with me to Bora Bora for Christmas, angel". I don't want to be mean about the Lurcher - he and his predecessors the Labrador, the Briard and the Afghan Hound have been very loyal over the years, they never missed Valentine's Day once - but Christmas is a touchy subject this year, and a card from Mr Woofy is not going to help. You see, after a few years of the coupley Christmas thing: To His; To Mine; His and Mine To Us, going solo at Christmas has a sort of regressive feel. Parents will no longer feel the need to behave, due to lack of non-blood guest, and will nag and force-feed me for the duration.
I can see it now: my mother will conduct a goose-style gavage on me, then I will trot upstairs to the guest room and get into a single bed with only a Christmas edition of Good Housekeeping for company.
I have considered various options for the total avoidance of Christmas. I read Rabbi Julia Neuberger's On Being Jewish - that's a possibility - Hanuka and gefilte fish instead of Boxing Day and stuffing. I might ring some Jewish friends and ask if I can join up for the festive season. Then there is the go-very-far-away option. I had an e-mail from a friend who has moved to Beirut. Apparently life over there is one long party and you can ski and sightsee. Ideal. Then I remembered that the women to men ratio is seven to one, which is why every Lebanese girl you meet is ultra-glamorous and dressed to kill (other girls). After a quick survey of my wardrobe I concluded: not enough leather and lycra for Lebanon. Another country then. There are loads of amazingly cheap late-availabilities over Christmas to - well, Egypt. Maybe not.
A friend rings who similarly wishes to escape Christmas. I tell her that, as it is after all my last opportunity, I might as well go on a Club 18- 30. She (City high-flyer) informs me that she is on the board of the company, we both get carried away with the idea, then eventually remember that she is 35. I've got to decide: the annoying little bastard on the radio gives me a Christmas countdown every morning, and time's running out. Today it's "only 21 days!" How does that song about "Please, please Mr Postman" go?Reuse content