I Think I Might Be A Modern Day Ebenezer Scrooge…

A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite festive stories, mostly because I feel a certain connection with the central character.

Although I do not identify with Scrooge’s attitude and general approach to life, on some level, I do relate to his experience in the novel.

Like Scrooge, I frequently find myself awake in the early hours of the morning.

However, unlike Scrooge, the voices that wake me up are not those of supernatural beings sent to teach me a lesson about the joy of Christmas and the fundamental meaning of life.  Instead, they are anxieties that originate from my own brain, piping up for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So, this Christmas, I have reimagined Dicken’s iconic spirits so that they represent some of the anxieties that often haunt me in the early hours – after all, there’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than using classic Christmas tales to analyse your own mental health!

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I Think I Am Suffering From Holiday Season Withdrawal…

January is quite a confusing time of year for me.

In the UK, the majority of holidays are concentrated between the months of October and December.

Although I no longer enjoy Halloween and Christmas as much as I used to when I was younger, I still like using the holidays as an excuse to consume a copious amount of food and drink before justifying the consequent damage to my waistline/ general health using the phrase ‘it’s *insert holiday name here* – I deserve to treat myself.’

In addition, the holidays provide winter with a kind of structure, helping to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

There is always an occasion to prepare for and, up until the end of December, it is possible to propel myself through the long dark months of cold miserable weather on a tide of festive merriment.

However, eventually January comes around and I am suddenly released into the new year with nothing on the immediate horizon.

I never know what to do with myself without the incessant stream of holidays that have kept me occupied since late October.

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How I Learned The Truth About Santa Claus.

When I was younger, my main ambition in life was to own a dog.

Unfortunately, my parents were reluctant to buy one because they both worked long hours and thought that looking after a dog would be impractical.

When I was seven, I decided to take matters into my own hands and actively wrote to Santa asking for a dog.

At the time, I thought that I was being really crafty .

I thought that I had devised a cunning plan to outwit my parents by going behind their backs in order to obtain what they had previously denied me.6 As a child, I had a very intense and vivid imagination and invested heavily in fantasies and delusions.

As a result, I had complete faith in Santa’s ability to provide, not only free 24-hour delivery of a live animal, but also a complimentary kennel construction and installation service.

I was therefore slightly disappointed when all that I received on Christmas Day was a DVD of Disney’s ‘101 Dalmatians’.

At this point, any sensible child would have learned to monitor their expectations and set their sights a bit lower.

Not me.

In fact, the following year, I decided to up the ante.1The prospect of having a magical flying unicorn excited me – not only would it be an efficient mode of transport but it could also act as a symbol of my inherent coolness which I could use to improve my social status on the playground.

Christmas day arrived and I rushed downstairs, only to find a distinctly non-unicorn sized package waiting for me under the tree.

Attached to the package was the following note:2Inside the package was a ‘My Little Pony’.

I’m not going to lie – the ‘My Little Pony’ was a MASSIVE downgrade from a magical flying unicorn.

I told my Dad that I ‘ho-ho-hoped Santa was very disappointed with himself’ but apparently this was ‘slightly out of tune with the spirit of Christmas’ so I brushed the hair of my ‘My Little Pony’ and tried very hard to look as if look like the process of doing so filled me with festive merriment.

Over the course of the following year, I discovered the Harry Potter books.

My favourite Harry Potter book was ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban’, mostly because I was borderline obsessed with Buckbeak the Hippogriff.

As a far as I was concerned, a hippogriff was a cooler, edgier version of a magical flying unicorn.

I decided that I wanted to go to Hogwarts and buy Buckbeak off Hagrid.

My dad once told me that if you want to get anywhere in life you have to learn to work your contacts so, that year, I wrote a letter to Santa asking him for a letter to Hogwarts.3At the time, I thought that relying on a fictional character to help me escape into a fictional world was a completely legitimate, logistically-sound plan.

However, on Christmas day, I was once again disappointed when I received a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ along with a note that explained that all I needed to go to Hogwarts was my ‘imagination’.

By this point, I was getting quite frustrated with Santa.

However, despite repeated disappointments over the course of several years, I still fervently believed that he was real.

In fact, my brother, who was two years younger than me, discovered the truth about Santa before I did.
4Evidently, I thought that Santa was having some sort of confidence crisis and that my pep talk would provide him with the self-esteem boost to cement his place in concrete reality.

I was quite upset when I didn’t receive a reply.

I saw it as a personal rejection.

After all, I had made the effort to write a letter to Santa and, even if  he wasn’t real, the least he could do was write back to me to confirm his lack of existence.

I obviously couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this lack of existence may have somewhat impaired his ability to reply to me – in fact, in order for him to reply to me he would have had to sent me a message from an alternate fictional dimension, something that would have essentially involved defying the laws of existence.

Nowadays, I have a better understanding of the boundaries between fiction and reality.

That being said, a small part of me still kind of believes Santa Claus is real.

However, I know that if he does exist, he is probably struggling to update his business model in order to remain competitive in an overly saturated, technologically-advanced modern market.

christmas-delivery.pngIf you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I Like to Pretend That I’m a Mature Adult With High-Minded Intellectual Opinions But, in Reality, I’m Just a Big Kid…

I have a degree in English Literature which essentially means that I have a £27,000 piece of paper that says I’m good at books.

One of the main skills that you learn as an English student is to think critically – to take wider intellectual concepts and apply them to whatever text you happen to be studying.

When I was at university, I often felt an obligation to live up to my image as a literature student.

I tried very hard to sound well read and informed and to provide a deep insightful commentary on whatever subject I happened to be discussing.

christmas pretty2_LII graduated from university a couple of years ago and, since then, I’ve become concerned that I haven’t been intellectually stimulating my mind as frequently as I used to.

I used to be interested in critical observations about the flawed nature of human society.

Now, simple little things BLOW MY MIND.

christmas pretty2_LI (2)If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Festive Eating – The Art of Consuming Enough Food to Find Yourself on the Verge of Exceeding the Physical Capacity of Your Stomach and Then Somehow Managing to Make Your Way Through an Entire Box of Chocolates.

Christmas food is in a league of its own.

In the 21st century, there is increased awareness of the health risks of excessive eating and therefore the majority of people tend to exert a bit of control over what they eat.

Not at Christmas.

Every time we substitute chips with salad, deny ourselves a slice of cake or practice any other form of culinary self-control, a little bit of tension is stored within us.

All of this tension is released on Christmas day.

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The sheer mass of food present at Christmas is enough to intimidate most people.

Food is everywhere.

Some items of food are served within other items of food, like Inception but with calories instead of dreams.

People buy presents that are specifically targeted to further increase their ability to consume food and drink.

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It is impossible to escape from the near continuous torrent of food.

The abundance and accessibility of food induces you eat at a rate beyond that which you would have previously perceived possible.

Items of food are often actively brought to you by other members of the family who are  trying to offload them onto you in a desperate attempt to halt their own unstoppable consumption.

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It is likely that members of your family will have prepared dishes which they look upon with the same sense of pride that Michelangelo experienced upon the completion of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

It is therefore hard not to experience a sense of obligation when they offer you a portion of their culinary magnum opus.

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Christmas day is a bit like Black Friday for your stomach in that it receives an unprecedented amount of business, all the digestive enzymes that work there get overly stressed and eventually everything implodes, leaving stranded you in a state of comatose on the sofa.

The physical consequences of this implosion normally manifest themselves when you attempt to dress yourself on Boxing Day and closing the zip on your jeans is the equivalent of squeezing said jeans, along with various other items of clothing, into an undersized suitcase before you go on holiday.

Once Christmas Day has passed, you are unsure if you will ever need to eat again.

However, on New Year’s Eve, the calories strike back in the form of alcoholic drinks.

New Year’s Eve calories are much more subtle than Christmas calories.

Not only is it hard to consider a liquid calorific, the more alcohol you ingest, the more intoxicated you become and the less aware you are of how calories work.

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Unless you possess an uncommonly high metabolism, it is impossible to consume vast quantities of food and without it exerting adverse effects on your waistline.

In order to counteract the calorific onslaught of Christmas day and New Year’s Eve, many people decide to take up running.

Running is similar to eating in that if you do for long enough it makes you feel sick.

When you first start running, it seems that everyone you pass doesn’t appear to be struggling as much as much as you are.

This may be because these people are just really fit.

However, it is comforting to imagine that a significant amount of people are just maintaining an illusion of fitness in order to appear impressive for as long as it takes to fully pass another person.

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‘But I Was A Sheep Last Year…’ – The Plight of Every Curly-Haired Child During Nativity Season

When I was in Year 1, I wanted to play the baby Jesus in the school nativity.

However, there were several fundamental problems that impeded this desire.

There was, for example, the slight issue that I looked nothing like a newborn baby boy.

This was due to the fact that I was a five year old girl.

Nevertheless, when the cast list was put up in the assembly hall, I crowded around it along with my fellow classmates, wholeheartedly expecting to see the following words imprinted before me:

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As a result, I was somewhat taken aback when I was greeted with:

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It was hard not to feel dejected, especially when it was consequentially revealed that a plastic doll from Toys R Us had been cast in the role of Jesus instead.

Nevertheless, I knew that the majority of successful actresses had to play some undesirable parts before they hit the big time and so accepted the decision with reasonable levels of grace and dignity.

However, I was a curly-haired and somewhat introverted child and, over the course of several years, a trend started to emerge with regards to the roles I was given in the nativity each year:

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After my fourth consecutive outing as a sheep, my mum tried to console me in an attempt to reinstate my damaged sense of self-worth.

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Despite her efforts, I became increasingly bitter and began making subtle attempts to sabotage the play.

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My subversive actions evidently had an impact.

In 2003, I was finally cast in a different role:

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At the time, the opportunity to play the backside of a donkey seemed momentous.

The fact that I had been upgraded to a slightly larger barnyard animal seemed like a significant step in my acting career.

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However, like most humans under the age of ten, I was not particularly patient as a child.

This lack of patience was particularly evident during the Christmas period.

When my mum first decided to have children, I imagine that some deluded part of her envisioned the family Christmas as a refined and civilised affair, like it was in Downton Abbey times.

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However, the building excitement of the festive season severely compromised my ability to do things at the appropriate time.

This tendency began to manifest itself right at the beginning of December when my mum would hand me an advent calender.

The proper use of an advent calendar relies heavily upon the idea of self-control, a notion which my 8-year-old mind struggled to apprehend at most times of the year.

During the Christmas period, it was a concept that no longer existed on my personal cognitive spectrum.

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Halfway through December, my mum would buy a Christmas tree and me and my brother were allowed to decorate it.

The process would start off relatively placidly with each of us placing decorations carefully on the branches.

However, it was not long before it became apparent that there was a significant discrepancy in each of our individual creative visions.

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The situation rapidly began to deteriorate.

What had started off as a nice sibling bonding session soon became a savage competition as to who could place the most decorations on the tree in the shortest period of time.

It was not long before we exhausted our mum’s supply of relevant, Christmas-based decorations.

In desperation, we began throwing any item in the immediate vicinity onto the tree in what I can only guess was a crazed attempt to claim it as our territory.

In the end, our tree had a slightly different aesthetic than that which is usually adopted in most other households.

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