Walking in a Onesie Wonderland

It’s the 15th of January and my hangover shakes have only just subsided enough for me to type. I am usually pretty happy at this time of year because Christmas is over and I can get back to being an unsociable Skyrim-raping bastard, however this year I am actually on a bit of a downer. The reason for this uncharacteristic post-festive depression is because I actually had a lot of fun this year. It’s true! I have discovered that it is entirely possible to have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas – and all you have to do is follow this one simple step:
 
-Wake up on Christmas morning and say to yourself: “Today I am going to do whatever the fuck I want”.
 
It really works, I tried it this year and this is what happened:

I woke up on Christmas morning in my mum’s house in Cyprus. I handed Billy, Lisa, Dan and my mum a onesie each, which I had previously purchased from Primark (for those of you who don’t know what a onesie is – it is basically a baby-grow for adults, complete with attached feet). Lisa was a penguin, my mum was a zebra, I was a cow, Dan was a gangster-baby and Billy was a kind of paedophile-snowflake.

Once onesied-up, we headed downstairs and sat by the Christmas tree in front of the log fire (turns out it can be a bit chilly in Cyprus in December) where we proceeded to open all of our presents. As you can see from the photos, our gifts and cards reflected the deep and profound emotions we feel towards each other:

When all the presents were opened we headed into the kitchen where we cooked dinner together (still in our onesies). Our dinner was accompanied with Grey Goose vodka and freshly-squeezed orange juice which had come from the oranges we stole from a farm the day before (we literally parked the car at the side of the road and ran into a random orange-grove armed with an empty shopping bag each. Most of us at least tried to steal oranges that had fallen on the ground as they would have gone to waste anyway. Not Lisa. She managed to find a basket of oranges that someone had actually worked hard to harvest and emptied it into her bag. I think the orange-picker guy had only gone for a cigarette).

Anyway, back to dinner. We put our Christmas hats on and ate FAR too much, laughed a lot, farted even more and put away enough Buck’s Fizz to ensure that none of our organs are considered donatable. After we couldn’t take anymore, the inevitable sleepiness started to creep in. Usually this is the point where I am so bloated that the dress I reluctantly squeezed myself into earlier that day now makes me look like a plastic-bag overly stuffed with awkward-shaped meat. I then have to talk to people that I haven’t seen since the previous Christmas without spewing into their eyes every time I take a sip of the circa-1965 booze that someone kindly donated from the back of their dead grandma’s cupboard.

Not this year. This year I was doing whatever the fuck I wanted - and I wanted to curl up in a ball and let literally everything hang out until this wave of over-indulgence had subsided. As if reading my mind, my mum then told us to go and look behind the sofa. We did as she asked and there, pressed up against the wall, were two airbeds. Two fucking airbeds! There were angel noises playing in my head. We immediately pumped them up, brought our duvets down from upstairs and arranged ourselves around the TV in a kind of disgusting human-amphitheatre, sheltering from the meat-sweats in our beautiful new Christmassy refugee camp. We passed the rest of the evening watching Team America and the odd episode of Eastbound & Down. It really was a ridiculously spectacular day.

Now, some people may think that this is inappropriate (and slightly repulsive) behaviour for Christmas, but 100% of the people I have talked to about my day have said the exact same thing:

“That sounds amazing, I wish my Christmas was like that.”

What I don’t understand is, if everyone wishes their Christmas was like that, then why isn’t it? Clearly we would all rather eat shit-loads of carbs and spend an entire day on an airbed in our pyjamas than do the formal family gathering so favoured by the average human, so why do we put ourselves through it? When I have kids and everyone starts coming round to mine, immediately upon stepping through the door they will be handed a onesie, an airbed pump and a glass of Buck’s Fizz – and this will set the tone for the rest of the day.

Since making the decision to do whatever the fuck I want on Christmas day, not only does it suddenly seem tolerable, I am actually actively looking forward to it. In fact, if all goes to plan, this Christmas might even overtake the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as my favourite holiday of the year.  If this sounds like your kind of day too, then I suggest you sit your family down and tell them that this Christmas you are doing whatever the fuck you want, and you will be doing it all day long.  If they don’t like it, then I’ll see you round ours!

 Bring cake.

Greeting Cards – Life’s Little ‘Fuck You’

The Eighties were generally good to the Dingwalls. Our days were filled with Eurythmics, Garbage Pail Kids sticker collections, meals made entirely in the deep-fat fryer, beanbags, ‘Going Live’ on a Saturday morning and chasing the neighbour’s kid around the park with some dog shit on the end of a stick (or ‘shitty-stick’ to give it its official title – a rewarding game that I still sometimes play with Billy in Seaton Park if I’m feeling particularly nostalgic). This constant flow of contentment was only ever broken by three things:

1. My mum revealing her latest home-made, pink, satin Roman curtain/blind abomination.
2. Tupperware parties.
3. The writing out of Christmas cards.

Today I will be focussing on the latter. My mum really hated writing out Christmas cards. I remember she had one of those plastic keyboard address books where you press the letter you need and it opens unnecessarily violently to the relevant page. She would just sit and angrily press the keys until she got the addresses she needed, a task made harder by the fact that she filed people like Mr & Mrs Baxter under ‘F’ because Mr Baxter was a farmer.  As my sister and I got older, she would try to enlist our help as ‘Envelope Writers’ – enticing us with such rewards as corned-beef hash or a glass of Raspberry Cremola Foam.  Despite the E-number heavy incentive, I didn’t like being the Envelope Writer and as I headed toward adulthood this developed into a full-blown aversion to greeting cards in general.

Nowadays, when the thought crosses my mind to maybe write out some Christmas cards, I am instantly put off by the sheer scale of the project:

- I don’t have anyone’s address, so the first task would be to email/text everyone I know and try to obtain their address.

- I don’t have an address book to put these addresses into, so before I start contacting people I should really go into town and buy an address book from WH Smith.

- I don’t want a boring black leather address book.  I want an address book that says “Look at me! I’m fun! But not irresponsible”.  I also wouldn’t mind one that has all the international time zones, a world map and some first aid pointers.  WH Smith simply does not have an address book that caters to all my needs.

- I need to go and buy some cards now.  I don’t really like any of the ones I’m seeing.  Do I go for the scenic snow-covered churchyard ones, the ones with a picture of Santa doing a shit down someone’s chimney or the ice-skating penguin ones?  This is hard.

- I need to buy some stamps.  How much are you for stamps nowadays?  Turns out I would have to re-mortgage my flat to buy enough stamps to cover the amount of Christmas cards I would like to send.  I’m going to have to cut people out.

- Who do I cut out?  The people I don’t really like?  But then they will know I don’t really like them.  People who aren’t related to me?  But I like people who aren’t related to me.  Well, I can’t send one to Person A and not Person B because they are neighbours and they might start talking about Christmas cards and realise that I deliberately cut out Person B.  Oh God…….what the hell am I going to do?

- I know what I’m going to do,  I’m not going to send any Christmas cards.

And that is what I do.  There have been a couple of times at family parties when Billy’s aunt has – in my favourite form of humour: Drunken sarcasm – said “Oh, thanks for my Christmas card Jillian, I sent you one but it’s okay, I’m not offended that you didn’t send me one back”.  She is BILLY’S aunt, not my aunt.  Why is it my responsibility to send her a Christmas card?  If she wants one then she needs to get all up in Billy’s face with her threatening greeting card hostility.  People are sometimes shocked that I don’t even send them to my immediate family but they know the script, they know.  If I sent a Christmas card to my sister she would instantly pick up the phone and say, “Um, why the fuck have you sent me a Christmas card?  Do you have terminal cancer?  Don’t tell me I’m going to have to buy an address book, put your address in it and buy a Christmas card and a stamp.  You better have terminal cancer”. 

Birthday cards are an entirely different matter, I am in favour of them - mostly because you just have to buy one at a time and you usually give it to them in person instead of posting it.  Depending on my mood I can sometimes make a very big effort, like this card that I sent to my sister last year:

Lisa and I have to write the word 'penis' at least once on our birthday cards to each other. A tradition that dates back to 2001 when she wrote 'penis' about fifty times on my flight tickets without telling me. I proceeded to present them at the check-in desk like some sort of sex-crazed, cock-monster.

Or completely forget about it until the last minute and improvise with whatever I can find in the man-drawer, like this one that I gave to my friend and all-round La Lombarda hero, Michael, the other week:

 

The problem I have with birthday cards is therefore not that I don’t like them, it’s that I am completely incapable of remembering anyone’s birthday.   I now rely entirely on facebook to inform me of my friend’s birthdays, by which time it is far too late to do anything about it.  So instead I write “Happy Birthday” on their wall, something I hate doing because, let’s be honest, it is a shit effort and I’m sure the last thing someone wants on their special day is to read a list consisting of three hundred variations of the words “Happy Birthday”.

As a direct result of my inability to get my act together and participate in the thoughtful tradition of greeting card sending, I now only ever receive cards consistently from two people: Billy’s parents and another all-round hero of mine, my friend Alison.  No matter how rarely I remember to return the gesture, they still never fail to send me a card every birthday and Christmas and for this I am truly grateful.  It does actually feel nice to get a card through your door and I salute them for having the motivation to keep doing it despite the fact that – in true Dingwall fashion - they might never get one back.