Monday, 24 December 2012
I fucking hate Christmas. When people ask me why I tell them how angry people make me, and how everyone goes fucking mental at Christmas and forgets what Christmas is about and go into a mad panic of present buying and drinking and parties and being fucking twee cunts.
That's not actually why I hate Christmas though.
Christmas makes me feel really fucking nervous. My childhood memories of Christmas are almost exclusively of my Dad trying really hard to make everyone happy, my Mum turning up for a couple of hours, fucking everything up and upsetting everyone and then leaving.
That's not why I hate Christmas though, either.
I hate Christmas because at Christmas my Dad is sad. Since my Mum left he's been on his own. Christmas for me is like a big, fat reminder that he is lonely, and so when I come home it is hard.
We don't have Christmas decorations, or a tree, because years ago Dad got upset and threw the tree on the ground when I said it needed to go in the bin. It was pretty dead and all the pine needles flew everywhere and then we went out while my brother and I just stood there, completely fucking unable to understand why he was so sad.
Dad's house is cold, and dark. It smells of cigarettes and the sofas are old and sagging. There is stuff all over the place that he doesn't need but he's had for so long that throwing it away would leave the place empty and weird. It's somewhere that I've always called home but that never felt homely.
Coming home to a quiet house at Christmas is strange. because it's Christmas I kind of feel like it should be warm and filled with family and noise, and smells of food and perfume and radiators warming up.
Over the years, the more lonely he has become, Dad has got quieter and quieter. I don't know what to say to him to make it better and so I've spent the last few Christmases just sitting downstairs with him, going with him to the supermarket if he needs something, and watching really old films on the telly. Silently. Not speaking, just being. I feel guilty going out anywhere, because even if the time with him is silent I would rather be with him than leave him alone. It was fucking hard and exhausting.
Last night when I got in I asked Dad if we were going to see anyone over Christmas. He told me that no, we weren't, because a certain family member is a 'prat'.
Now, I fucking hate this family member, and had not mentioned it before. I burst out laughing and agreed: yeah, he is, isn't he. Dad told me why he didn't like him, and I told Dad why I didn't like him. The reasons were similar. It was the most we'd spoken to each other in ages. We hadn't laughed together in years.
At home, I showed Dad Spotify. He wasn't really into it until I managed to find a song by Massimo Ranieri, when, grinning like an idiot, he jumped up from the sofa and plugged my laptop into his guitar amp and we sat together and listened to the music, drinking wine and nodding along.
The more we drank the more Dad talked. He told me stories that I had never heard before, because he'd been silent and I'd never thought to ask. He got out a photo album and showed me photos of where he was born and grew up, and I had another idea. Google maps.
We typed in the address and spent ages wandering around the village. I saw the tap where my Nan used to wash clothes, the wall that Dad used to walk along to go to school, the church where my Grandparents were married. Stuff that I never knew existed, and Dad was not just happy now, he was excited. I'd not seen him happy like that in years and years. He looked different all of a sudden. He looked bright and alive.
For those couple of hours the house wasn't cold anymore, and the sofas weren't knackered and uncomfortable, and it wasn't dark. It was suddenly full of history and memories and love.
It was the best Christmas present I've ever had. I'd made my Dad smile.