The Post-Christmas Blues

Of all the events that take place in our capital, Christmas is the one that has the largest appeal and the widest range of audience responses.

The hype was a show in itself. Whereas most plays, gigs and shows content themselves with throwing a few measly pounds into advertising space, Christmas wraps itself around lamp posts, pipes itself over television and radio waves and even suspends itself across the sky in Oxford Street. You cannot miss Christmas. The holidays, as Coca Cola whispered, ‘are coming’.

This ubiquity creates a range of responses. I listened to rants about stress and expense and irrelevance and to rhapsodies about food and presents and warmth. Like a curious anthropologist I reserved my own judgment until the sun rose on Christmas week and with a shrill cry I rushed down to Oxford Street.

Unless your loved ones are cast in the mould of Little Lord Fauntleroy, a thoughtful gift can produce the same effect as an expensive gift, if not a greater one. And there is a steely pleasure that comes from evaluating 30 different dressing gowns and using advanced psychological profiling to select the most fitting. And there is something intimate about said profiling: you must love someone if you’re willing to dedicate an hour of precious life to thinking, solely, about whether they look better in red or green.

And there are  – as Cath Millman vouches – moments of real good will. Staggering under a mound of goodies in Selfridges, an oversized gold coin balanced atop the mound tumbled. From behind the groaning tower, I eyeballed the shiny chocolate, aghast. A convivial shopper lunged downward and replaced it on the pile. A few feet later when the same thing happened, another shopper did the honours. When it happened a third time I started laughing weirdly which delayed the civic gallantry but didn’t stop it happening once again.

Going home – although physically painful due to the volume of my bounty – was wonderful. How many times a year is everyone focused on the same thing? This is our generation’s version of running towards the bomb shelter.

The day itself was like it is for many: a bewildering and slightly painful exercise in gluttony given redemption by brilliant films. The aftermath is depressing but of course you should feel down at the end of a year. Endings are grim.

My end words on Christmas: an intricate, interactive show which combines endurance and enjoyment in individualised ratios but which brings out a gentler side to almost all.

Christmas will be returning to the capital on Saturday 25 December, 2010.

Image by g-hat courtesy of Flickr

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