One of the great things about the new year beginning is it means the Christmas period is over, and the stress of the silly season gives way to a peaceful calm.
This lasts a good week or so before it is shattered by the general population realising that, mysteriously, they weigh four kilos more than they did a month ago.
This leads to a frenzy of resolutions about diet and exercise, making appointments with personal trainers, buying new shoes to go walking in, thinking of excuses to skip appointments with personal trainers, and finally giving up and just buying larger pants.
Christmas stress is not just related to unexplained weight gain1, however. For a start, there is a lot of stress around Christmas due to people – whose brains have been turned to fudge by hearing 50,000 rounds of Jingle Bells over supermarket sound systems – requesting radio stations play, All I want for Christmas is you by Satan2, and radio DJs – whose brains would require the addition of thousands of brain cells just to get to fudge – doing so.3
Much of the stress, however, is that Christmas brings together two groups of people who naturally exist in isolation from one another and have difficulty interacting in a positive way – and no, I do not mean my relatives, although I can see your point.
Rather, I talk of the fact that the Christmas season brings together two species who have evolved in isolation and have no prospect of understanding one another, let alone getting along. Yes, fatefully, Christmas brings together City Dwellers and those who live in the suburbs during the day; this is a bad idea.
When people who normally spend daylight hours in the suburbs visit the city during the day (as at Christmas) they become Daywalkers, and they fit in to the busy rhythm of city life with the seamless grace of Bob Katter at the opera. While city dwellers are busy rushing between important work tasks such as getting coffee and lining up for sushi, the Daywalkers stroll aimlessly about, dazzled by Christmas decorations and occasionally concussed by e-scooters.
This annoys City Dwellers as the dawdling of a suburbanite can cost several spots in the sushi lines, a tragedy of immense proportions given that the lines for popular sushi places have been known, during peak times, to extend to the Gold Coast. The stress this can cause City Dwellers is so great it can require as many as three glasses of Prosecco at lunch to get over.
Of course, Christmas office closures also bring City Dwellers to the suburbs during the day, and City Dwellers are no more comfortable with the slower pace of the suburbs than Daywalkers are with frenetic city life. This is because that city pace has left City Dwellers with all the patience of Donald Trump at a breakfast buffet, which is no good (I mean impatient City Dwellers in the suburbs is no good, not that Donald Trump at a breakfast buffet is no good, although it is hard to see how that also wouldn’t be less than optimal viewing).
So, when a City Dweller steps into a suburban newsagency, they are looking for a very quick transaction, probably via their watch. Whereas the retired gentlemen in front of the City Dweller, accustomed to the slower pace of the suburbs, is using the excuse of buying $200 worth of complex lotto ticket combinations to explain to the newsagent, in great detail, everything that has ever happened to him.
The impatient City Dweller can become quite stressed by this, which may well lead to a newspaper headline the next day reading something like, “Crazed Lawyer Attacks Old Man with Rolled-up Copy of The Economist4” (Incidentally, if you ever do see a headline like that, please call Bill Potts and tell him I need to speak with him urgently).
Also, while I am warming into clueless rants, I will say this. My time in hell will go by much more quickly knowing that, down there with me will be – in addition to the people who developed Big Brother, everyone who ever appeared on Married At First Sight, and the person responsible for a relentlessly screened ad for a certain payday lender5 – will be the people who stand in line at the bakery for 10 minutes and still don’t know what they want when they get to the head of the queue6. Which reminds me, I should start buying two copies of The Economist.
So we can see that Christmas can be very stressful because it brings people together who, due to the forces of evolution, will struggle to get along. I suspect this is why alcohol consumption goes up over the holidays, which brings me to another of my classic segues.
I will close by saying good luck to any readers who, like me, take February off alcohol; and yes, I also hate leap years.
© Shane Budden 2024
1 And by ‘unexplained’ I mean, ‘very easily explained by the fact that you ate twice your weight in chocolate over a two-day period in which the only exercise you got was burping’
2 You heard me
3 Yes, that was a long sentence.
4 I mean the lawyer had The Economist, not the old man. Nobody over 80 buys The Economist, as each copy takes a good 20 years to read, and in your eighties that isn’t a good bet.
5 You know which one
6 You know who you are