Every year during the twelve days of Christmas I try to read A Christmas Carol. I maintain that it’s no more or less pathetic or maudlin than watching It’s a Wonderful Life every time it’s on, but then whether that excuses it or not, I couldn’t say. This year, K. rediscovered her complimentary copy of the edition illustrated by Roberto Innocenti, which she reviewed for Early Times nearly twenty years ago. Reading it has been like finding your favourite radio serial has been made into a programme on BBC4: again, make of that what you will.
The older I get, the more I wish for low-key fun at Christmas. It’s not that I’m becoming wedded to any particular tradition—save that of taking advantage of the societally sanctioned free time to see people who mean a lot to me; and reading A Christmas Carol—but rather I don’t feel like the best use of Christmas as a festival is to do anything particularly wacky. I rarely travel at this time of year (which is surprising given my parents live in Spain) and only undertook a car journey to Cardiff because K. missed her parents and First Great Western are incapable of running a decent train service.
This year, then, we had Christmas at home (thus also enjoying the house we only moved into in September) listening to the radio and watching a few DVDs. New year’s eve and day will be spent in Cardiff, where I’m currently hiding from the hoover in K’s bedroom. It’ll be the first new year for some time that we’ve seen in with family. That’s another thing that I’m worryingly becoming more attached to: family. With a year of losses and gains behind us, it’s hard not to treasure those close to you, but it’s been a bit of a surprise to me that I’d want to bring my family—and K’s family—any closer, rather than concentrating as I’ve largely done so far on friends instead.
Can I blame this on the events of the year, on its hopes and fears, births and deaths; or is it an inevitable consequence of getting old? Am I slowly becoming the sort of person who says they “don’t want any fuss?” Have I skipped a generation—sidestepping what K. feared might happen, that I turn into my dad—and am now turning into my granddad? The fact that we don’t see consumption as necessary for celebration, and the slightly eccentric conservatism that results—Petroc Trelawny in place of a plasma TV—means we’ll never be completely like the generations before us, but that probably just means we’re merely reinterpreting them as farce.