Have yourself a merry little blissmas

After a difficult year maybe it’s okay to indulge in some schmaltz, says Tanya Meeson
Woman&Home, December 2022

There’s a moment close to December that shifts the balance of the year full tilt into year-end jollies or the screaming heebie-jeebies, depending on where your musical proclivities lie as you stroll the shopping aisles selecting your veggies. I think you know what that moment is and I think I can comfortably predict how it will sound. Maybe it’s already earwormed its way into your brain or, if you’ve managed to avoid to it, let me be the one to kick off this silly season for you. Are you ready? Okay, here goes…

Mariah’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ or Buble’s ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ or Boney M’s ‘Mary’s Boy Child’…

Sorry. Don’t hate me. I couldn’t help spreading the cheer. And I’ll tell you why, even though I might lose some of you here. But I really, really love Christmas.

Now, I’m not religious and so this might come across as flippant to those of you who are, but I love all the tinsel, bells-and-whistles, happily-ever-after movies and Euro-inspired snowflake trees with SA-reality braais and sunscreen smells. I know it’s commercial and I know it’s sentimental, but after a year of horror – war and climate collapse, corruption and enough murder in TV shows and the real world to bath us all in blood – it just feels like a bit of a palate-cleanser. You know? Like, why after all the horribleness can’t we just have a little break from reality and enjoy a moment of believing it’s all going to be okay?

Maybe I was just primed for this from my childhood. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my gran, and song ‘n’ dance movies were big in the household. Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby … you name it, their croonin’, tip-tapping ways had me transfixed. The only thing that could top the picture-perfect world of loveliness and happy endings they inhabited, was if that world was covered in dazzling white snow and Christmas cheer beamed from every scene.

Musicals are somewhat different today, but the baton of all things merry is still in play, having been handed over to Christmas movies and jingle bells and the sweet blush of hope in the New Year and new beginnings.

That’s not to say that the Christmas season doesn’t have the power to throw me into a world of angst around ‘enoughness’. Family ‘shoulds’ and traffic mania, the year-end scramble to tie up loose ends and all the expectations of jolliness, isn’t exactly a recipe for levity.

But then I get home and put on those tree lights, treat myself to a Christmas choccie, pop on a sentimental Christmas movie, and: voila. Instant stress relief as I ball out whatever tears need to come. (To be fair, I’m easily moved by sappy scenes, so I can’t guarantee this will work for everyone.)

Look, I’ve not always been this way. Frankly, for a while I was just annoyed by Christmas and – I’ll risk the Grinch-like exposure of this – the expectation to give gifts.

One year, on an especially tight budget, I railed at Tom about this until I frothed at mouth: the commercialisation, the plastic, the lack of reciprocal thought in the effort I put in etc etc … and then it dawned on me like an irritating kindness: I actually like gift-giving. I like finding or making presents and wrapping them next to a twinkling tree while I watch Father Christmas movies and eat choccies … getting into the Christmas spirit of giving, I realised, was a pleasure for me.

gah okay fine I’ll just gift into it

Since I’m naturally very self-serving, this realisation went quite some way to settle my feelings around this time and so now here we are: Tom helping me make crooner Christmas playlists and me fretting because my favourite Quality Street isn’t what it used to be. But these are good problems to have.

As the next few weeks roll round in whichever way the roll round for you, I wish you great comfort, love and celebration, both for the exiting year and the one ahead.

And when those carols wind up in the mall, I hope they find you singing along.

Image: something from the internet of vintage freebies