I have to say the realisation came to me with a bit of a jolt, but, well, at least the jolt came in a nice box. I've just realised why I hate Christmas.
It isn't accidentally coming across the Great Escape on the telly again (for Christ's sake that bike is NOT going to get over the fence!). Neither is it getting hoodwinked into watching The Sound of Music and singing along in the Simpson's version ("DOH! A deer a female deer").
It also isn't to do with not getting the presents I've been dropping hints about for the past year. "Hey, a crate of Budweiser, that would be a great Christmas present"; "Hey a Ferrari, beautiful, now that would be a great Christmas present"; "Cameron Diaz in a mini skirt? Oh my god I think I'm going to faint, but if you could get me her phone number for Christmas" (faints).
Nope nothing to do with those. What I hate most about Christmas is email.
Before email life was nice and simple. Before email you kept in touch by writing, phoning or (in the case of someone like, say, Miss Diaz) waiting for them at the bus stop so you could start a stilted conversation about the weather or last night's TV when they arrive. You either kept in touch or you didn't and this was fine. Your close mates stayed your close mates and the people you didn't care so much for (or them for you) sort of drifted away. Close friends that didn't need regular contact to stay close friends stayed close friends; it was all nice and organic.
But now we have email and all that changes. There is now no excuse not to keep in touch with everyone.
All the time.
All you have to do is drop them a quick email and all is sweetness and light, forget the fact that you might not have anything to say. It is now one of life's great faux pas to not return an email. Which, of course, I am terrible at - or should I say I'm very good at. In fact I'm excellent at not returning email. It is absolutely nothing to do with not liking the people sending it; it's always a pleasure to get email. Alas, it's nothing as simple as that, I mark the message unread and make a mental note to go back to it in a couple of minutes and write something witty to return the compliment of them emailing me.
And then three months later, doing a bit of tidying up, deleting old messages I come across theses unread messages that start off "Hi Chris long time no hear". Around this point panic sets in because this is the third time I have taken three months to reply to them. Let's face it there are only so many times you can get away with: 'Oh gosh, is it three months already' or 'Terribly sorry I took three months to reply - I forgot'. And the totally real reaction of 'ohmygodohmygod, sorrysorrysorrysorry, eeekkk' I didn't realise it was so long...' somehow doesn't help anyone.
Which brings me to Christmas.
All this is brought to a head in December, now not only are there outstanding emails but they now people are sending you Christmas cards. And alas I tend not to send Christmas cards, again not through any kind of 'bah humbug' philosophy but much more a 'oh, rats, it's Christmas eve and I've not sent any cards' philosophy.
Thus not only do I have outstanding the Christmas cards I've not replied to, but also a shed load of emails. Basically I'm thinking of going into hiding. So after Christmas I'm forced to send out a load of begging emails asking for forgiveness for not having sent an email since last year when I sent a begging email asking for forgiveness.
This of course has one very minor advantage in as much as over the years the number of people that send me email and Christmas cards (that is, my friends) has dropped drastically making the number of people that I am socially overdrawn with smaller.
So, can I just say that not only do I hate Christmas, but I am also dreadfully sorry if you were expecting a reply to an email or a Christmas card. But I am onto it - expect something in three months or so.