Now we don’t want to get all George Bailey here, but there’s something about Christmas that speaks to our cynical side.
Sure, we love a Mince Pie and the dulcet tones of Wham! as much as the next hedonist, but the relentless churn of Christmas messaging can get even the merriest soul down.
Maybe it’s the disconnect between the hype (Joy to the world! Rosy cheeks! Carols!) and the reality (Irate relatives. Hangovers. Feeling broke).
Perhaps it’s the fact that the Christmas gravy train sticks stubbornly to the notion of mistletoe and love, when actually many of us are a.) arguing, b.) breaking up, or c.) flying solo.
Whatever the reason, suffice to say that Christmas isn’t always the season to be jolly.
So if you, like us, start to feel your festive spirit run thin, come take solace with our alternative Xmas messages and gripes, below.
The random romance merch
While Christmas is generally a period of latent irritation between couples (“No I told YOU to turn the oven on”), the High Street – like Hollywood – ignores this fact, and plugs Christmas romance with all the veracity of Love Actually on steroids.
Brave the festive shopping crowds and you will inevitably be swept up in a barrage of Christmas mush, from his ‘n’ hers stockings to pillows merrily embossed with the words “Mr/Mrs Right” (yes, really) and thoughtful tat such as the Little Box of Date Nights.
It’s like the world’s manufacturers have colluded with movie producers to say that Christmas as a couple is The Only Way To Be.
If you find it all just a little galling, you’re not alone: Instagram’s @notengaged has got your back…
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when ur #notengaged and u foolishly attempt to go shopping. and u try and find decorations for ur first year living alone and instead ur met with mr. and mrs. stockings and “our first christmas” ornaments and stocking holders that only come in pairs. well i just want ONE stocking holder. and i’ll take this house ornament to say MY first christmas with an investment account thank??you??very??much. #blessed i’ll take the taco ornament too tbh.
The clichéd Insta pics
Posting on Instagram is a bit like binge-eating cheese: there’s nothing big or clever about it, but sometimes it just has to be done. And this impulse kicks into overdrive come Christmas time.
Suddenly, we’re thrown into a festive spamming frenzy that takes on epic proportions. Christmas tree snap? Nailed it, on December 1. Roaring log fire with mulled wine lead? Abso-frickin-luty. Cute bauble caught in the twinkle of a fairy light? Why the hell not. And on it trundles.
Not even the boozy, bleary pics are a turn-off because hey, it’s Christmas.
Satiregram, an Instagram account dedicated to calling out our predictable ‘gram habits, knows the instinct only too well. Yep, guilty as charged…
The schmaltzy Christmas greetings
We don’t know what it is about Christmas that shouts “time to get sappy in a manner that would be unacceptable at any other time of year” but it’s an impulse that runs deep.
This is a period where you can expect to be bombarded with wholesome greetings and heart-warming cards, all singing the virtues of family, marriage, kids, and general togetherness (Engaged! Expecting! Excited!).
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But what if you’re the kind of individual who gets their warm and fuzzy feeling from Netflix? Or if you feel just a teensy bit cynical about the whole shebang?
Then this, my friends, is for you: a rather brilliant tiding of a different tenor from illustrator VioletClair:
The obligatory grilling from relatives
All you really want to do at Christmas is face-plant a box of Quality Streets in peace. Amiright? Instead, the shadow of nosy relatives forever lingers, ready to strike at the most inopportune moments.
– How’s your job going?
– What happened to that new house?
– Have you done something different to your hair?
– Why are you still single?
Yep, they have no shame. And because your mind is still on said box of Quality Streets, not to mention the mental switch-off that you so crave and deserve over the festive season (what is Christmas if not for eating yourself into a gentle food coma?), it can be hard to conjure up a satisfactory reply.
Twitter user Gladis absolutely gets it:
Your family members during the holiday season: Why are you still single?
— Gladis (@gladiss____) November 22, 2018
The Santa PR machine
Christmas is a time where we all jump on the Santa train. That dude is everywhere, flying across rooftops, jumping out from card racks, staring down benignly from his perch in rosy window displays. In fact, if Santa had a publicity firm, they’d be in for a major pay day.
Illustrator @ninacosford goes a little against the grain here, by playing on the traditional narrative.
First she has Santa as a woman (shocker!) and secondly, the she-Santa suffers from the same Christmas issues we all do: widening waistbands, comfort dressing and a waft of festive sweat. It’s the grounding we all need as Xmas mania sets in.
The ‘this is family time’ drill
Let’s get one thing straight. Christmas doesn’t have to be about family. Especially if “family” means passive-aggressive rows over table ornaments, or your Aunty Barbara barricading herself in the toilet after stress-drinking too much Eggnog.
Pensioner queen of Instagram and all-round style icon, @baddiewinkle, reminds us that we can sidestep the pressure. If you like, (and Baddie does), Dec 25 can equal a time for you, your badass sweater and a multitude of fluorescent gifts. Screw everything else.
The crazy consumerist onslaught
There’s something about Christmas that brings out the Mariah in all of us. Every year, we vow to take it easy and remember what’s really important about the season of joy.
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And then before we know it, we’ve gone all Liberace on the decorative front, and our credit card is whimpering for mercy after yet another Crimbo-inspired bashing at the local Paperchase.
Fist bump to our favourite celebrity-watcher @celestebarber, then, for keeping things real and reminding us of our place next to the actual Mariahs of this world.
The tirade of Xmas muzak
Isn’t it funny how something cute and catchy can gradually grind you down into a state of teeth-gnashing fury? So it is with festive music, which starts off all cheery and upbeat on November 24 (bit early but hey; shops will be shops).
And then just a few weeks later – when technically the Christmas spirit should reach its zenith – you’re really to hurl the speaker at a nearby wall. Seriously, if you hear just one more peep from smooth-grooves Bublé, or the massively entitled Eartha Kitt, you might just lose your s**t.
It’s good to see @unspirational sharing our pain…
The relentless loved-up vibes
Why is it that the moment Christmas kicks in in earnest, all the couples come rolling out? Even the ones whose relationships are a hotbed of simmering tension somehow put their differences aside to play to the loved-up parade.
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There you are, just refreshing your Cranberry Sangria like any good Christmas citizen, and instead you have to run the gauntlet of a thousand snatched kisses.
It’s a truism that satirist @imnotathirdwheel, who captures the relationship between him, his brother and his brother’s wife, knows well. We’ve all been there…
The obsession with finding ‘The One’
Ah yes, the mythical One. Although it’s a favourite tick throughout the year, our preoccupation with The One cranks up a gear over the festive season.
We need The One under the mistletoe! And canoodling us by the fire! Maybe even dropping by our doorstep come Christmas Eve to tell us they’re secretly in love with us, with help from some creepy cue cards (a la Love Actually).
Kudos then to this Instagrammer, for pointing out that The One at Christmas can just as easily be a giant cheesy pizza. All the satisfaction with zero chat-back. Win.
Main image: Shutterstock