Tinsel and Courage

I love Christmas. A bit too much. I am one of those unbearable people who really does wish it could be Christmas every day. It is absolutely magic. Tinsel is the most beautiful man-made substance I know of. I love presents, giving them, getting them, planning what to get, trying to guess what other people will get for you. I love our own family traditions. I love Cork at Christmas and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I feel I left the last three Christmases pass by uncelebrated. As I wrote here last year, I only spent about 20 minutes on my Christmas shopping in 2010. I didn’t decorate my little freezing cottage. This is not like me. The previous year, I was living at home with my parents and unemployed and so I didn’t have anywhere to decorate and had little money for presents. Also, I was deprived of the “going home” part of the “going home for Christmas”, like in my favourite ad of all time.

In 2008, I got a surprise pay cut of €1100 in November and was in a bit of crisis about “Where is my life going?” and I really didn’t do Christmas well.

So the last time I fully entered into the Christmas spirit was 2007. That’s a long, long time ago. I decorated my little flat in Rathgar. I overdecorated it. There was barely a square inch that didn’t feature coloured flashing lights. I remember going into paroxysms of ecstasy on my first hearing of Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” that November. I think I may have scared my colleagues a little at just how excited I got that night. I spent over €1000 on Christmas presents that year. It was fabulous.

Two weeks ago, I was at a Thanksgiving party (because I’m that cosmopolitan) and as I heard my first few Christmas songs, I decided that there’s no way this Christmas is going to go to waste.

Last Thursday, on the 1st of December, I unleashed Christmas.

I was on my way to a DVD launch (Did I mention how totally cosmopolitan I am?) (Should I disclose that the friend who organised the Thanksgiving party was the same person whose DVD was being launched or should I just let it look like I have an enormous circle of talented and cosmopolitan friends?) and I decided to bring Christmas with me. I stopped into a shop called “Great Value” and bought two garlands of tinsel. One was red and gold. I tied that around my middle. A waist-cinching Christmas belt! The other was green and gold and I wore it as a scarf with a ruff coming down my front.

The one around my waist didn’t move all night, but the green and gold one went from being a scarf, to a court-jester-type adornment along my sleeves, to a sash, like an Orangeman or beauty queen.

As I walked home from the launch, adorned in tinsel, it struck me that it’s been a while since I did anything like this. When someone doesn’t like their own appearance, it can be very easy to hide themselves. I have gone through phases where I avoid crowds and clubbing, when I dress in dark clothes and become a bit loner-y. People forget how shy I can be when they get to know the bubbly-tinselly side of me. Just like I’m proud of myself for taking the leap and getting into the water at the pool on Wednesday, I’m quite proud of myself for walking home bedecked in tinsel on Thursday night. Hopefully, courage is like a muscle and the more I use it the better it gets.

On the way home I stopped off in a shop and bought some Diet 7Up. The man who served me looked at me strangely, asking “What happened to you?” I have dealt with non-native speakers for years and I should have known better than to give the answer I gave. But I was feeling jolly, so I said “I was attacked by Christmas”, which I thought was quite funny. However, he looked at me very sympathetically and said, “I’m very sorry”.

As I got nearer to Halls, I was met by lots of students on their way out to boogie in town. They mostly greeted me cheerily. Then, in a terrifying incident, two 18-year-old girls leapt on me and started dry-humping my arms while their friends filmed. Another reason to lose weight: fat people generally look completely harmless and unthreatening.

I don’t know if it was because of, or in spite of, the attention I got but I got home full of Christmas spirit and bounce. The waist-cinching tinsel belt is now decorating my bedroom and the green and gold one is now decorating the straps of my schoolbag.

But two measly strands of tinsel do not a Christmas make. Decorating was essential. On Saturday, a day I had promised myself would mainly involve working on my thesis, I spent much of the afternoon driving around the Southside of Dublin. I went into a series of discount shops in the Thomas Street area and bought oodles of cheap decorations. Then I went looking for a tree. A real tree. Just so you know, Rathgar and Ranelagh are not the places to buy a cheap Christmas tree. I wasn’t going to get cheaper than €60. And most of them were €70 or €80. Eventually, as evening was falling, I found a lovely 7 foot tree in Dublin 4 for €30. I crammed it into my little car.

And then I brought Christmas to Trinity Hall. I put up my lovely tree. It’s gaudily and tackily decorated. Thank God. The last thing Christmas should ever be is tasteful. Bleurgh!

The boys offered to help pay, but I was feeling far too Christmassy and fatherly to let that happen. I am disproportionately proud of that tree.

Anyway, I have to post about food and diet and weigh-in stuff too today, so I’ll leave my Christmas rapture there. Till later tonight, folks.

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2 Responses to Tinsel and Courage

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hurray! I am just now getting caught up with Project Connor. I LOVE being your cosmopolitan, Thanksgiving-party-giving, DVD-launching friend!! 🙂 xx MB

  2. Pingback: Connor, creativity and boundaries | Project Connor

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