I adore Christmas. Let me just put that out there right now. You will not find another person in this world with a more chronic case of the holly-jollies than me. From December the first to the twenty fourth, I live the life of a manic elf with a Benzadrine addiction. I hop around the house, draping every surface and inanimate object in tinsel; I make enough shortbreads and truffles to put even the healthiest person into a diabetic coma; and I spend hours perusing store shelves to ensure that every gift I give represents the receiver's personality and taste to a tee. In short, I'm a poor man's Martha Stewart. But like late season hay fever, this condition doesn't last. The place you are most likely to find me on Christmas night, once my son has gone to bed, is curled up on the couch eating my fourth helping of plumb pudding and wondering where it all went wrong. I'm not unique; Christmas is statistically the time of year when depression and suicide rates are at their peak. Don't worry, I plan to stick around and confound people with my self depricating ways for the next fifty years or so, but I do share the dubious honour of feeling about as wanted as cheap fruitcake once the last carol has been sung.
What is it that triggers this horrible affliction? In a word, anticipation. Love is something we are told is the be all and end all of existence from when we're too young to know how to spell it. The princesses in the fairy tales we were read back then always got their man. Or rather, he got them; all the princess had to do was make a wish and wait to be rescued, (don't even get me started on why that incenses me so much). Christmas is equally as well-hyped. Kids are told that if they're good all year, they'll find exactly what their little hearts desire under the tree. We realise of course that this is a complete crock once we reach adulthood, but it doesn't stop us from believing it until we rip off the expensive wrapping and find a ten dollar Chanel no 5 knock-off that smells like toilet deodoriser. The truth is, if you build up an experience too much in your head, you will only be twice as gutted if it doesn't happen. That isn't to say that it won't, and I'm not suggesting that you surrender all hope of finding someone who will cuddle up with you on the couch and feed you truffles, (am I alone in that fantasy?). I am simply saying that just telling Santa what you want will not guarantee waking up to find your perfect guy under the tree, wearing nothing but a strategically placed festive ribbon. Us grown-ups have to work for what we want. Go out, socialise, make new friends. If nothing else, you'll have other people to swap Surprise Santa/Kris Kringle gifts with, and that sure as hell beats post-holiday indigestion.