Hark! Is that the jingle of an overladen shopping trolley or the bells on Santa’s sleigh? Is that the screech of a fractious parent or a chorus of preschoolers singing “Away in a Manger” out of tune? Yes, Christmas is out to get you, whether you dread it or welcome it with open arms. To help you prepare yourself for the onslaught, I’ve identified four different Christmas personality types; which one are you?
- Do you tend to ‘do’ Christmas, whether in the traditional or some hybrid newfangled way, or do you try to avoid it as much as you can?
- Do you anticipate Christmas mostly with anxiety or with joy in your heart?
Find your personality type from the table below and read the detailed descriptions that follow. Don’t forget to share your ‘diagnosis’ anonymously in the poll and/or in the comments below.
Disclaimer Serious personality research is based on the analysis of multiple data points; this has come straight out of my – admittedly thoughtful – head. Therefore it’s just for fun and you participate at your own risk!
Christmas crackers: cheerful joiners
Watch out for … smugness or assuming everyone would do it your way: why do so at Christmas, when you’re open to diversity for the rest of the year? By all means invite a lonely neighbour around for sherry, but only if you genuinely enjoy each other’s company. No-one appreciates being pitied and, if you’re guilty about good fortune that others can’t share, a donation to charity can assuage your guilt.
Christmas martyrs: anxious joiners
Watch out for … perfectionism and burnout. It’s only in those cosy Christmas adverts that the holiday is ever perfect and, if you exhaust yourself or get snappy juggling so many responsibilities, you’ll end up ‘spoiling’ Christmas anyway. Prioritise! Delegate! As I set out in last year’s Annethology Christmas message, you’re not obliged to do it all. Seriously, if you set yourself impossible standards, you risk joining the victims. And if you can’t set reasonable limits, get yourself some therapy and learn to be kinder to yourself.
Humbuggers: cheerful avoiders
Watch out for … feelings of inadequacy or making do with ‘Christmas lite’. Don’t underestimate the social and commercial pressures to conform. Some martyrs will feel threatened by your capacity to give Christmas the finger, while Big Business will try their damnedest to get you to splurge on your credit card. They’ll target your inadequacies and hint that the solution is to spend, spend, spend! Resist! You’re not perfect, but neither is anyone else. It’s not your imperfections that drive you to opt out of Christmas, it’s the inadequacy of the holiday itself to meet your needs. While card-carrying humbuggers can co-opt some trappings of the season, don’t succumb to ‘a quiet Christmas’. Why accept the inferior version if it’s simply not your thing? People might look at you askance when you say you don’t do Christmas, but you’re showing solidarity with those that the contemporary secular Christmas actively harms.
Victims: anxious avoiders
Watch out for … suffering in silence and/or self-blame If you’re lonely, is it just at Christmas or year-round? If the latter, make concrete plans to reduce it, hard as this might feel. Loneliness is bad for our health. But if yours is solely seasonal, does it need to be a big deal? You might actually be a loner, drawn to solitude, and it’s the illusion of the perfect family Christmas – perpetuated by capitalism and Christmas martyrs – that makes you induces you to feel you’ve got it wrong. While advice abounds on combating Christmas loneliness, you might prefer to ride it out – you might even be a closet humbugger – finding solace in one of these books. If you’re bereaved, you might not want to join the jolly Christmas crackers. Unless you’re suicidal – in which case get help – remember sadness is a normal human emotion. It would be mad to expect the entire world to be happy on the same day of the year.
As with suicide, Christmas debt and domestic violence is beyond the scope of this post, other than to urge, please don’t suffer in silence! You can’t deal with debt by splurging on food and presents; if money is a worry, get some help budgeting, don’t take out a loan! If someone in your household can’t control their temper, a mince pie and sprinkled glitter isn’t going to put it right. If you’re not safe at home, call the police!
Which type am I? Which type are you?
I don’t think I’ve ever hosted Christmas, but I have slipped into a slighter form of martyrdom in trying to maintain the Christmas ‘magic’ when it no longer fits. It took me a while to accept that, while my husband and I agree on a similar level of Christmas participation versus nonparticipation, we’re poles apart on the content. I’ve found it a lot less stressful since coming out as a humbugger: as a childless, vegetarian, low-alcohol, atheist, rubbish present-buyer, non-party-goer who is very happy with my day-to-day life, I’ve found – or created – my tribe. When the weather’s kind, and there’s a quality Pixar or Disney on TV, Christmas day can be lovely: solitary walk; couple of hours of writing; cuddling up to children’s movie; a decent early dinner with a glass of Prosecco. But in thick fog or rubbish telly, it’s more fragile. That’s probably why I keep posting about alternative Christmases: I’m still working it out for myself.
Enjoy yours, whatever form it takes – and please don't leave without registering your type!
When I saw the prompt for this week’s flash fiction challenge, I thought it had cracked me. I’ve heard of key lime pie, but I don’t think I’ve ever tasted it. And it seemed worlds away from my Christmas theme. But when I decided to build my 99-word story around my not knowing, I think I cracked it. See if you agree!
Every year she gamely tackled Christmas pudding: weeks before in the kitchen; at the table, stomach stuffed, on the day. She’d do it differently this year.
“It’s green!” whined Grandson.
“There’s no flaming brandy!” groaned his dad.
Spoons clinking on plates, they hardly heard Daughter-in-law cough. Eyes bulging, hands crossed at her throat, her chair fell to the floor as she staggered to her feet. Fortunately, Maiden Aunt was a first aider. She soon Heimliched out a tiny key.
“What the …?”
Such fun hunting for the plum pudding silver sixpence. She’d updated the tradition with key lime pie.