My Christmas Story recommendation is The Ghost ships by Angela Carter.
Why? Because it contains the true meaning of Christmas. What do I mean? Or what does she mean. Is it the crinkle of Christmas paper, ripped open for presents to glow upon rosy cheeked cherubs who dance by the yule logs a-crackling in the fireplace, as Mum and Dad look on in soft focus.
Most assuredly not.
Is it then because it exults that Christmas is a time of reflection and rest, of peace and goodwill to all men. Perhaps a trip to the church and a sip of sherry.
It is because she recalls that Christmas was for-run by something darker. Something more authentic. More real. Something that we all need, and claim probably too often and too meekly as we plod through the year and rush from September into this dulled down festival of consumerism and garish nonsense.
Because it’s not really about crap CDs and socks and X Factor…. Xmas is a thing enduring and in all of us.
Look, read Carter, I won’t spoil it but she talks about how it is a festival of light. Of Saturnia of excess. Of mistletoe, that like the Maypole, is a symbol of something altogether more energetic and…. Well, moving.
It’s about feasting and drunkenness and lewd displays – and how in the new world they weren’t going to be at home to any of that. In fact they prohibited it, by law…. Yes the path was set firmly in place some time ago in America, bless ‘em.
Misrule – that is the message of this festival. It’s the big long weekend of the year.
And what else? It’s Angela Carter! Mad, Bad Angela Carter, who takes us by the hand deep into the forests of her imagination, to places that we’ve all been before as children and in the deep dark parts of the night that we don’t talk about, even to our nearest. She talks us back to the dense imaginariums of our shared past, through pallid calm streams and then on through a darkening glade that is quickening into night til we stand amongst a place that teems with life and the other thing just there in the corner of our eye.
Angela Carter reminds us in this story of the original meaning of the festival of the end of the year. That it is a time to dance and rage at the dying of the light. To feast and play and finally lie spent. And maybe light a candle and hope that tomorrow they’ll be a chance to do it all again.
So don’t have those two or three Quality Street washed down with two or three beers and fall asleep in front of Alan Carr. No. Read Carter, whilst munching on a whole box of the very best Belgian chocs you can steal and drink the best wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion – this is it! – and then grab someone (the more distantly related to you the better) and dance til you can’t see ‘em.
For that is the True Meaning of Christmas.
Do enjoy your Xmas irresponsibly…..