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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Yuletide bull$h!te

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Yuletide bull$h!te

Andrew Ryan

After three years of living in Melbourne and flying back to Perth each December to spend my birthday/Christmas/new year’ss fortnight with family and friends, I’ve decided that this year I won’t be coming home. I love my family, and I love my two friends who make the effort to make me feel welcome when I’m there- but I don’t love Christmas, I don’t love New Years, and my birthday- which is two days before Christmas- is almost always shitty because I’m always disappointed by the amount of attention I get. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY. I CARE ABOUT YOUR BIRTHDAYS. GODDAMIT I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE STRESSED OUT ABOUT CHRISTMAS IT’S MY BIRTHDAY etc. I’d rather ignore Christmas this year, work at the bar on Christmas and New Year eves, and enjoy my birthday with a group of people who give as little of a shit about Christmas as I do so we can all have a merry time rejoicing MY birth, probably while I’m working at the bar also so I won’t be able to get as drunk as I usually would which saves my liver and kidneys from too much damage, so it’s win win!

Obviously I’m jealous of Christmas, but I also straight up disagree with the whole thing. I don’t personally know anyone who celebrates it for religious reasons. Religion is a shitty excuse to celebrate this contemporary version of the holiday anyway. The traditional family nice times and food and laughter and everything don’t have to be allotted to one day of the year every year. Families who care about each other hang out whenever they feel like it. Families who don’t care just shouldn’t see each other, because when they do see each other they get all shouty and manipulative and hurtful (I assume, I don’t really know what that’s like). Christmas presents are generally bullshit and the amount of wastefulness that time of year is horrendous. Tinsel? What the fuck? Plastic trees, broken decorations, plastic plates, party poppers, children’s toys… it’s all bad, and it’s all pointless.

The only good thing about Christmas is how much ham is available in supermarkets. I love ham. I consider my birthday a great success if someone buys me a leg of ham- which has only happened once but it was INCREDIBLE. I was once given a leg of ham just because my friend knew I loved it and he said he has never seen someone’s eyes light up so much over a piece of meat. Ham doesn’t just have to be for Christmas. But it’s still pretty nice when suddenly everyone else likes it as much as I do for a few days and I don’t feel like a freak for talking about it all the time. Ham ham ham ham ham.

Christmas in Australia; everyone knows it’s something of a joke- while the rest of the world is snowed in wearing big dorky sweaters and drinking eggnog to keep warm, we are playing cricket on the beach with our sweaty uncles or eating our seafood platters infront of a fan, while the babies roll around in just nappies because it’s too hot for them to wear clothes, even though everyone else has to. I suppose I’ve just found it difficult lately to make sense of it all. It used to feel nice, but now it just doesn’t.

In the Northern Hemisphere it makes more sense. Brutal winters are depressing; there’s no sun, all the leaves are gone, leaving the house is a huge effort, you get sick easily, you can get stuck in snow storms, animals get frozen, your grandma keeps sending you more dorky sweaters that you have to wear because you can’t afford to buy yourself more aesthetically pleasing winter attire- Christmas is a warm shining light in the middle of all that crap, a reminder that this is just the end of a cycle, the sun will come back out relatively soon, and these people around you are glad you’re all still alive, you will all survive the winter together, and everything will be okay. It’s almost necessary for something like this to happen in parts of the world where winter is still vaguely scary concept- psychologically it makes perfect sense.

BUT IN AUSTRALIA IT DOES NOT. It’s a totally different celebration. It’s holiday time! School holidays, work holidays, can go to beach, get a tan, drink expensive white wine and chow down on fresh local seafood… Christmas doesn’t need to be there to make it better, or easier to deal with. If anything it brings the tone of summer down. Summer is already awesome, having Christmas there to demand our attention, being all “BUY YOUR DAD THIS TOOL SET” or “IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PRESENT FOR SO AND SO, JUST GIVE THEM THIS BOX OF CHOCOLATES” or “YOUR TEENAGER NEEDS THIS THING” or “YOUR TODDLER IS GOING TO SCREAM FOR DAYS IF YOU DON’T GET HIM THIS OTHER THING” is fucked up. Totally fucked up. Consumerism is bad at the best of times. Christmas consumerism turns people into fucking zombies and creates times a billion stress. Fuck that.

This year I won’t be buying anything for anyone for Christmas. Mum, I know you’re reading this so please let the rest of the family know that they should save their money and not buy anything, and if they REALLY want to express their love for me, to maybe write me an email, or send me some photos of the babies or something. Or pool a tiny amount each and transfer to my account to I can buy myself a new pair of glasses. I really need a new pair.

I’m not alone in my attitude towards Christmas (although the aspect of jealousy is probably quite specific to me… ), and I’ve heard of quite a few families who have alternative celebrations, or even none at all, and everyone is doing just fine. There are some websites you should have a look at if for some reason you’re still stuck in consumer Christmas mode and you can’t think of any possible way to get out of it:

http://www.xmasresistance.org/ http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/ http://www.stevethepro.ukf.net/xmas/

Good luck this year everyone. I’ll be sipping Mojitos in a park on December 25th, hopefully able to ignore the ridiculousness so much of the world seems caught up in.