I wrote a Christmas thing to read at Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler’s amazing Christmas show at Christmas Bush Christmas Hall. Here it is:
We had set each other gift-buying parameters – £20 maximum, sourced from charity shops or second-hand shops, and no underwear. Charity shop and second-hand shop underwear did not say ‘Hey, we’ve been dating a few months and I really fancy you’. They said ‘Other people’s rude bits have touched this.’ And other people’s rude bits were the exact opposite direction to where we wanted to head.
We had different canvases. She took the north of the city and I took the south. She searched for t-shirts with faded American industries on them, like Jimmy’s Crab Shack, Atlanta Tigers lacrosse under 16s team, and University of Wichita, trying to find the one that carried the correct balance of haha-funny and obscure and weird and cool. I searched for books that told her how well read I was. Even though I hadn’t yet migrated to John Updike, Tobias Wolfe and John Cheever, they were influences cited by my favourite authors, great American novels that would make me look cool.
We had different ideas of what our £20s could get and what they should say. I wanted to get her as many things as I could for £20, show her what type of person I was and impress her with a sense of thoughtful cool. She wanted to spend £20 on one or two things she knew I’d love, that would make us laugh and that were good quality to be kept for keeps during the tenure of our relationship.
We had a week to complete this challenge. I amassed books and CDs, a mixture of ironic and excellent items; a few interesting dresses and a Challenge Anneka boardgame. She amassed a t-shirt that advertised a library in upstate Massechussets and a pair of brogues I had coveted on a popstar we had found ourselves watching on T4 one hungover Saturday.
We had lunch at a pub that was doing all the trimmings. It was our Christmas lunch. She was destined for a vegetarian Christmas with her vegetarian sister and I was predestined to not really celebrate any strands of Christianity in my Hindu household. We ate our mass manufactured turkey breasts, soggy roast potatoes and drizzles of gravy and were both satiated with the festive taste on our lips.
We laughed, we told each other cracker jokes we’d made up:
90s Cracker joke:
Who is Santa’s favourite rapper? Snow
00s Cracker joke:
Who is Santa’s favourite rapper? Jay Z aka ‘HO HO HOVA’
2011 Cracker joke:
Who is Santa’s favourite rapper? Saint Nick Minaj
We shared stories about drunk relatives and their drunken rants against immigrants, public sector workers and Northerners. We got drunk and we walked home together, hand in hand, then arm in arm then armpit in armpit. We realised we’d left our bag of presents under the table at the pub we’d eaten dinner in. We smiled at each other and kissed under the mistletoe I’d put up in my hallway. The lost bag melted away. Somehow it didn’t matter.