In the spirit

It’s Christmastime, and even I get the vibe. I say even I, but in reality I’ve always been secretly chuffed at this time of year. I despair at the crowds, but I also enjoy the rush and bustle. The incessant carols piped and played and sung sometimes seem cheesy in the extreme, but I’m made sentimental by memory and the meaning of them. It’s sometimes crass, commercial, and way overdone, but then you see an excited child, a loving family, and something gives way in you. I don’t have a tree at home, and my Christmas celebrations will be private, but it doesn’t mean I’m Scrooge.

I was invited to a block party on Sunday afternoon. Normally it’s the sort of thing I avoid. I’m civil and friendly to my neighbours, but it’s rare I want to get too pally with them. I can be pretty social, but I’m also pretty private. We might live next to each other, but I live my life and they live theirs.

Having said that this was not really something I could avoid. I was cornered by the lady in the front unit a couple of weeks ago and given an invitation. I was not averse to it, but if something better came up in the meantime I’d do that first. Come Sunday afternoon I was doing a bunch of long overdue ironing ad watching the cricket when 4pm rolled around. I saw as people began to gather on the front lawn of the complex and knew I couldn’t be the odd man out – besides, it was Christmas.

I wandered up with a glass of Pimms in my hand. Later I fetched a bottle of red. It was a mild, sunny day, perfect for the occasion, and I sat down and nibbled on the food provided and chatted away to the neighbours till then I’d mostly just nodded out or exchanged the odd friendly word. I guess I stayed for about 2 hours, bringing Rigby up to join us for the last 30 minutes of it. He loved that, and they loved him. Then it ended and my duty was done.

Then I rocked up at work yesterday and on my desk was a small basket filled with homemade cookies and fudge, courtesy of one of my workmates. Today my manager has presented each of us with a jar of home-made relish for Christmas. It’s very pleasant, but needless to say I’ve not reciprocated. I guess my excuse is that I’m a bloke, and I’m happy to act the unreconstructed bloke when it suits me – though I have a bag full of pressies I have to ship off to my nephews and niece today.

Most of my colleagues are departing for their Christmas break from today. I’m working till Friday, but have next week off. I’m catching up for a few drinks here and there before that, and look forward to it – I love Christmas drinks. And for the day itself, though my plans may seem lame, I intend to make a day of it, replete with cocktails, a gourmet lunch, and maybe even a pav. I’ll be Christmas in spirit.

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