“I don’t do Christmas,” he will say, his face pinched with misery. Quite a statement, and one loaded with meaning.
To him, Santa is just an anagram of Satan and nothing more. You can deal with this, though, you tell yourself. You can make him adore the festive period – everybody says they hate it, but love it really. You can play him Winter Wonderland over and over. Maybe hang some jingling bells off your privates. And so your denial continues.
But as the nights draw in and the Christmas lights start twinkling, you’ll realise when someone says they don’t “do Christmas”, sometimes they mean it. He’ll tell you he’s not “doing presents or Christmas parties” – Christmas Refuseniks spend a lot of time telling you what they’re NOT doing.
He’ll wince at tuneless Christmas carolling and hiss and tut when he receives a Christmas card from another poor soul who thinks they can rehabilitate Santa’s Little Detractor. He’ll use your Phil Spector Christmas album as a coaster and – horror upon horror – delete all your copies of Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas Is You from your iTunes.
Throughout December, there’ll be rumblings of Christmas being “too commercialised”, that the town centre is “hell on Earth” and, when you slink in feeling warm and merry after your work Christmas drinks, he’ll look with scorn upon your flashing Rudolph nose and antlers, brush the crumpled mistletoe out of your hand and will refuse you drunken Christmas sex. What a joyless, heartless bastard.
You think you can change him. You start buying him small gifts, putting up ‘tasteful’ decorations and sneaking festive-themed food into his daily diet of gruel and humbugs. But it is futile. Step away from the pigs-in-blankets – he’ll see straight through you.
Nor will he return any of your Christmas kindnesses. Sure, he’ll take your presents (“I don’t like to see money wasted”) but won’t get you anything (“it’s just a waste of money, like I say”). No Christmas cards will he write, no overly stewed mulled wine will he drink. Christmas will start to feel like it’s happening to someone else. Everyone but you.
It’s not sustainable. You may look upon your lovable grinch with affection at first, but before long, you will find yourself craving Christmas cheer. You will end up routing through cupboards in July, seeking out Christmas cake or a rogue Quality Street.
Unless he’s citing religious reasons – or all his family died in a horrific fairy lights incident on Boxing Day – there’s no excuse. You’re not asking him to sit atop your tree for the entirety of advent; you just want him to smile when he hears Frosty the Snowman come over the PA in a shopping centre at ear-splitting volume. Remind him: nobody ever wanted to fuck Scrooge’s brains out.
How to fix it If you find yourself up against a Yuletide Debbie Downer, don’t try to force festive cheer on him. Why waste your energy? The best way – and the most fun way – to make someone come round to your way of thinking is to make them supremely envious of all the fun you’re having, by… having it without them.
Say yes to every invitation, gobble every mince pie. Festoon the place with every bauble and garland you can lay your hands on. Refuse to be drawn into his ice-veined misery by creating enough happiness for ten people. Let Santa empty his sack all over you.
Either your tinsel-hating refusenik will eventually fall in line and realise it’s OK to enjoy yourself while wearing an awful jumper and eating a canapé, or he’ll take umbrage and escape your glimmering grotto, taking his raincloud elsewhere.