“I don’t do Christmas, “ he will say, his face pinched with misery as if a stray strand of tinsel that has somehow found its way into his eyeline. 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. And so your denial continues.
But as the nights draw in and the Christmas lights start twinkling, you will realise that when someone says they don’t “do Christmas”, sometimes they mean it. He will 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 will wince at Christmas carols, tut when he receives a Christmas card from another poor soul who thinks they can rehabilitate Santa’s Little Detractor, delete all your copies of Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas Is You from your iTunes and use your Phil Spector Christmas album as a coaster.
There’ll be rumblings of Christmas being “too commercialised”, that the town centre is “hell on Earth” throughout December and, when you slink in feeling warm and merry after your work Christmas drinks, he will 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. He’ll see straight through you. Nor will he return any of your Christmas kindnesses. 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 mulled wine will he drink. Christmas will start to feel like it’s happening to someone else. Everyone but you.
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. 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.
I have a new column in the wonderful Gay Times magazine, detailing all the men you should never date, along with a page attempting to solve readers’ life dilemmas (I know, I know). The first is available now. Head to GT’s website to find out how to download or where to buy a print edition.