I hate Christmas! There, I’ve said it! And don’t argue with me about it because you won’t change my mind! And whatever you do…don’t try the “baby Jesus was born” line on me…it is the one time of the year I am glad to be Atheist.
Truly! Saves me a fortune on gifts, and I just love sending people in Darwin, Far North Queensland and Adelaide “Season’s Greetings” cards with snow, sleighs and people wrapped up to the nines on them.
People are stocking up on baked goodies with “Palm Oil” listed amongst the ingredients…a couple of rainforests have probably been destroyed to plant plantations of palms to provide the oil…but it’s Christmas, so I really shouldn’t think about that.
Nor about the back alley sweatshops in India and Asia where the Trade Practices Act doesn’t exist, and they are bent over machines making all the multitude of Christmas stuffed toys, stockings, tablecloths, serviettes and a myriad of other products so that you can over-laden your tables with enough food to last for weeks…but again, it’s Christmas, so I really shouldn’t be thinking about that either.
But these aren’t the real reasons I hate Christmas…though they are important issues. No, the real reasons are a lot sadder than that. On the 8th December 1965, my father – Frederick Pickhills…known to his friends and family as Joe – took his 7yo son Kevin – my brother – out to The Gap at Watson’s Bay in Sydney, and went over the edge with him. My father, unfortunately, survived. My brothers body turned up in Broken Bay three days later. My father got off with a slap on the wrist and a five-year good behaviour bond. Merry Christmas for 1965!
Christmas Day 1980: my company – a religious retailer of long repute in Australia – had sent me to Melbourne to troubleshoot two businesses down there just prior to Christmas. With so much to do I had no time to meet people or arrange anything. I spent my first Christmas ever on my own. There was fuck-all on television and I amused myself with a bottle of scotch!
Boxing Day 1986: the beginning of what was to become a 10 -year path of sorrow called the HIV/AIDS epidemic. My tiny 24yo friend Andrew Todd finally succumbed after a long period of illness, in the dark times when they could offer him no hope. It broke my heart!
Every Christmas from 1998 until 2013: spent with my then partners family…and yes, he dreaded it every bit as much as I did. The years we went away were the worst – Werri Beach; Port Stevens; the far South Coast of NSW; Port Macquarie! Sheer boredom and bloody misery. Everyone tried to be oh so happy…but nobody was. My poor ex has to face it on his own this year.
But it hasn’t been all misery. There were 4 Christmas’s in Darlinghurst when, having found that a number of friends had nowhere to go on Christmas Day, I arranged an “Orphan’s Christmas” at home, often with 10-15 people turning up. It started off with me preparing everything, then became a bring-a-plate. These were the happiest Christmas Days I ever had, in the company of good friends, eating, drinking, laughing a lot and exchanging gifts. So, I am not lost after all lol.
And this year? On my own for the first time in a long, long time. I am looking forward to it, actually. It will be peaceful and quiet with the dogs. I’ll prepare a nice meal, drink a few glasses of white, and I think a friend from Sydney – also out to escape the family Christmas – may visit.
So as much as I bah-humbug it, most of you will celebrate it in one form or another. As an Atheist, I will not wish you a merry Christmas , but a happy holiday season.