I began a two-week holiday with a typically boisterous and exciting work Christmas do on Friday afternoon; by yesterday midday, my hangover was giving way to a tickly cough; today I have a full-blown cold. But oddly it hasn’t particularly displaced my (bordering on the ridiculous) Christmas spirit.
Christmas holidays, unlike summer ones, are well suited for being slightly ill: Andrew-Motion-unwell, drinking Lemsip and hunkering down. And as anyone who has met me in the past three weeks will know, I’m with David Mitchell on Christmas. With a little care it can be a wonderful, affirming occasion. Human nature is what it is, and we can’t condemn the strained jollity that accompanies this season by suggesting that we ought to be just as decent to our fellow man all year round. As Scrooge’s nephew Fred puts it:
[Christmas is] the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
We are what we are—often introverted, usually slightly solipsistic, prone to selfish instincts—and I am what I am—all of the above, plus middle-class British. It’s in that context that we should be grateful that for a month, and especially a week of that, and especially a day of that, we can justify making the effort to be better than our natures. Merry Christmas to you all, and merry Christmas to me, that we might all pass our merriness on.