I've sent my cards, wrapped my gifts and nestled them between the branches of the tree. But I still don't like Christmas. It's the one day a year when people feel obliged to be happy, even though they may be swamped in debt, seduced by disdainful retailers and their sparkly window displays, overrun by condescending relatives asking personal questions, plagued by ex-lovers with their new floozies, being fat and getting fatter, and without the figurative guts to do anything about it.
A year ago I was in a small town in the South of France, about forty minutes from the city of Montpellier. We had dinner on Christmas Eve. Fondue, baguette, fillet, plenty of wine. It was bitterly cold outside. On Christmas Day we left for the Alps, a five hour drive into the heart of mountain territory, where we would spend the next week skiing and snowboarding. New Year was one I'd never experienced before. The only discotheque and Michael Jackson's Thriller, a girl at the bar trying to start a fight with me, with a language barrier to make it all very confusing. We stayed there until 6am, eating croissants for breakfast surrounded by passed-out drunks and spent partygoers, with confetti, streamers and other festivities strewn about the floor.
Also, I got my Christmas wish. Clyde will be home on Sunday, January 2nd. Over a week before he was due back. I can almost feel his return. This is when airports are friendlier places, but only at the Arrivals terminal. And this time, in the flesh.