The idea that Christmas is just around the corner fills me with existential dread. More than any other marker in the year — say, Easter or Thaipusam — it rings the bell for another year. It’s so depressing.
Saffy says this is why people should celebrate Christmas the way the Australians do — in the middle of the year.
“Christmas in July!” she exclaimed a few years ago after coming back from a BBQ pool party thrown by her friend Wendy from Perth. “It’s totally genius!”
“That’s a thing?” Amanda asked. “How is ‘Christmas in July’ actually Christmas?”
Saffy’s bosom puffed up. “Wendy says it’s because December in Australia is stinky hot and so no one really feels like it’s Christmas. So, apparently, some people throw Christmas parties in July because it’s the middle of winter down under.”
Amanda was unconvinced. “That just makes no sense at all. That would be like celebrating, I don’t know, Thanksgiving on New Year’s Day just because the weather is better!”
But the idea has grown on me. And Saffy especially. Because if you celebrate Christmas in July, then the whole thing about the end of another wasted year being just a week away doesn’t come up. There’s no marker.
“But you’ll still know 31 December is there, won’t you?” Amanda asked the other day. “It’s still going to be the end of another year.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t become a big deal!” Saffy told her. “It’s like if you were watching, I don’t know, Avengers: Endgame, and then suddenly, someone on screen, says, ‘Well, this is the three-quarter mark, you have only another half an hour before this movie and the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe as you know it will come to an end because all us actors haven’t had our contracts renewed’, it’s really going to spoil the rest of the movie. It’s better that you don’t know and just let the ending creep up on you!”
Amanda pursed her lips. “That’s just too weird.”
Saffy shrugged. “It makes total sense. I hate Christmas. It’s right up there with New Year’s Eve. I keep thinking about all the things I haven’t done during the year.”
“But you’ve done so much…” Amanda began.
Saffy’s bosom inflated half-heartedly. “Nope. There’s been absolutely no progression in my life. I’m still in a dead-end job. My boyfriend still hasn’t asked me to marry him. I’m still poor and renting and I’m still living with the two of you.”
Silence descended on the room as three sets of eyes stared hard at the ceiling, minds whirling in fast rewind over the year’s highlights.
“Well, I can do a headstand, now,” I offered eventually.
“That’s your crowning achievement for 2019?” Saffy said. “A headstand?”
I felt a little deflated. “And a handstand too, so long as it’s against the wall.”
Saffy rolled her eyes and turned to Amanda. “What about you, Miss Glass Half Full? How has 2019 been a great year for you? You’ve got a headstand and partial handstand to live up to.”
“Well…” Amanda trailed off. You could almost see the gears in her mind whirling frantically. “Umm…”
A few days later, our Instagram feeds popped up a video of an elderly pensioner somewhere in the UK who has spent the last 20 Christmases alone. This year, he told the TV crew that had dropped in on him, he is spending it with someone with dementia at a place he volunteers in. The TV host asked him to go to his front door and when he opened it, a school choir started singing ‘Silent Night’. He sobbed all the way through.
“Well, that was both uplifting and depressing!” Saffy said at the end of the video. “That’s going to be us in 20 years! It’ll be Christmas 2045 and children will be singing ‘Silent Night’ to us and we’ll be wearing our winter fur in the middle of Orchard Road because we’ll have dementia and think it’s snowing!”
Sharyn says this is what happens when people have too much time on their hands. “I so busy preparing the turkey, I got no time to think about anyting else! Ay, you all coming to my house for Christmas lunch, right?”
“Yes, but Amanda and I can’t eat turkey, remember? I hope you have vegetarian options,” Saffy told her.
“Yah, I get my helper to make peanut congee for you!”
Saffy later said privately that it was precisely this sort of attitude that made her regret spending so much time with Sharyn during the year. “What a waste!” she sighed as she wrapped her best friend’s Christmas present.
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos