Attack of the festive spirit

2013-12-06 11:00

The late great writer Christopher Hitchens once received a torn square of brown paper in the mail – a card from the comedienne Phyllis Diller.

It said: ‘Money’s scarce, times are hard, here’s your f***ing Christmas card’.

‘I could not possibly improve on the sentiment,’ Hitchens mused. And I agree. This time of year is ripe for expletives.

It starts in October. The first offence usually occurs at your local mall.

It’s the Christmas tree – a gigantic false conifer propped upright, covered in chintz and plastic and lights. Internationally, this is the signal for those who can’t stand the ‘festive’ season to find cover.

Why don’t I like Christmas? For the same reason I find birthdays and New Year’s Eve disappointing.

It’s all about manufactured fun and forced jollity. And it’s also reminisccent of the fact that a person rarely turns out to be as attractive in real life as their Facebook photo might suggest.

It’s that much worse if you’re not entirely convinced by the claims made about the Baby Jesus.

If you think certain aspects of His legacy are slight exaggerations, it’s a bit much to be expected to celebrate His birthday like it’s the coming of, well, you know who … But this isn’t what Diller was getting at. In my opinion, what she was saying is that it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or Jewish or Muslim or atheist, whether you’re wallowing in cash or stone-cold broke: you simply won’t escape Christmas.

Even if you try to withdraw from those noisy shopping cathedrals, your favourite radio DJ or television host will attack you aurally with some stupid festive gag.

Most likely, you won’t be able to get past your family either.

Even those of us who vow every single year to find an escape are eventually defeated. And we find ourselves, eyes glazed over in despair, gnawing on dry turkey come 25 December.

Like clockwork, we succumb to the invasion that occurs like clockwork every year – the Attack of the Festive Spirits.

But help is at hand. Zombie films have taught us how to survive a zombie apocalypse, and with a few alterations to suit the new challenge, I believe we happy few can make it to January next year unscathed.

First, it’s important to build a secure base for protection. Houses that are completely cut off from public view are best.

Second, stockpile non-festive foodstuffs such as biltong and rum.

Third, limit your outside sorties to the homes of fellow survivors or open spaces where the festivities can’t creep up on you unexpectedly. Switch off your TV for the month – not even PVR will save you.

Buy an Xbox if necessary or books. Cut yourself off from all people who appear to be happy, content or grateful. They’ve been infected.

Last, and this is by far the most important rule: you’re not to wish anybody a happy anything at this time. That’s how the Christmas zombie germs spread.

When he isn’t fighting zombies with tinsel, Sipho Hlongwane writes for Business Day and Daily Maverick. Follow him on Twitter @comradesipho

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