Feliz navidad y feliz año nuevo!

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Round Two

I’m writing this post on my return from Fuertaventura, on a plane full of pissed up Scottish holidaymakers. Call me a snob, but picking your nose, getting up on your seat and shouting “have ye nae got any o’ those big cans o’ Strongbow?” is neither behaviour becoming of a lady, nor the best way to represent your nation. I think said lady, sat next to me, isn’t sure what nationality I am, so I’m keeping up the pretence of not being Scottish, to avoid getting caught up in a drunken altercation about the Spanish trolley dollies not having any “f’ing Strongbow”. Makes me proud to be Scottish, so it does.

I’ve had a fantastic two weeks in Fuertaventura: my cancer-free-christmas present to myself. I booked this holiday back in October, not knowing if I was going to live or die and was adamant about having a final-fling. Now I’ve been given a reprieve and this holiday has become a celebration, a chance for me to rest and recover from the cancer that’s taken over my life for the last 18 months. Admittedly, I hate Christmas, so it’s also given me a legitimate excuse to escape the country for the festive period. I’ve wanted to get away from Christmas for as long as I can remember and found myself in good company in Fuertaventura, surrounded by a bunch of sun-worshipping santa-haters.

Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad

Drunk lady has just blown her nose – sans tissue – into her own hand. Very classy, although I suppose this is the risk you take, when you pay £66 for a return flight to anywhere.

Ghost of Christmas Past

My contempt for all things Christmassy goes back a long way. It was fun when I was a kid, but my Christmas’ have always been tainted blue. I’ve never been a fan of forced jollity. Fun for me is spontaneous and unexpected, it doesn’t come with bells on and it’s definitely not glitter-wrapped. My ghost of Christmas past remembers the tangled web my childish head weaved between ‘my father’ and ‘our father’. You see, Christmas day is Jesus’ birthday but it was also my dads’ birthday, and in my warped little 5-year-old brain I truly believed my dad had some divine connection with Jesus. My belief resulted in my becoming a temporary Christian with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ my annual TV pilgrimage. My mind harks back to the Christmas day tantrum, when my brother won the TV battle to watch David Attenborough’s ‘Life On Earth’.

My devotion to the bearded one was swiftly knocked out of me when I cracked my head open at Sunday School. I’ve had issues with Sir Dave ever since: give me Jesus grooving to a 70’s beat over Mr tortoise-face any day.

Ghost of Christmas more recently

My ghost of ‘Christmas more recently’ is pretty bloody miserable, which is why I decided to leave the country. I have a ridiculously large family, for which I am eternally grateful, but in more recent times I’ve begun to feel like an overgrown child at Christmas. When you don’t have a partner or children of your own, Christmas is the empty stocking that no-one has filled, reminding you that you’re not part of the ‘over-30s-settled-with-a-nice-house-and-family-brigade’. If you felt sad and single before, Christmas is a sure way to ramp up those feelings of inadequacy by about 500%. Aside from the ‘Kath + O’ wedding invitations, it’s the social event I dread most as a single person.

A message from David Shrigley

A message from David Shrigley

Cancer cast an even darker cloud over last years’ festivities. It wasn’t a happy time, and Christmas has the annoying habit of magnifying all of those negative emotions that you manage to keep under wraps for the other 51 weeks of the year. If you felt rubbish before, then the relentless ‘HO-HO-HO-SHOP-SHOP-SHOP-KEEP-SMILING-COS-IT’S-CHRISTMAS’ message rammed down your throat, from mid-October onwards, is the perfect recipe for a less than Joyeux Noel.

Last twix-mas, it all got too much for me. I had to escape, and an emotional reunion with an old school friend turned into the mother of all hangovers. What started as a civilised lunchtime reunion became rocket-fuelled champagne-bombers on an empty stomach. I somehow managed to drag myself into hospital for a check-up and scan at 9am on New Years Eve.  CT scans and hangovers are a lethal cocktail and an experience I never want to repeat.

Ghost of Christmas Present and sometime in the near future

This Christmas I discovered a whole new world. A world where it’s okay to say ‘I hate Christmas’. Being in Fuertaventura at Christmas was like joining some weird support group for the festively disillusioned. Does seeing the colours red and white together bring you out in a rash? Would you be happy if you never had to eat turkey ever again? Do you believe the world would be a better place without that ear-bleedingly-irritating Slade song? Then come to Fuertaventura where no-one gives a shit what day of the year it is!

David Shrigley (240x240) (2)

David Shrigley

My Christmas in Fuertaventura might be the best I’ve ever had. The festivities started on the 23rd and there was no crazy shopping frenzy, no making a twat of yourself at the office party, no gorging yourself on mince pies and no television. Our Christmas day was a delicious cocktail of beach-yoga, swimming and Factor 20. Sunshine was my tinsel and olives were my sprouts. A lone piper played Christmas carols on the beach. A nostalgic nod to Christmas’ past and a little slice of festive heaven.

Going on holiday is a time for reflection and although I’d love to tell you that I had an earth shattering epiphany whilst lying on the beach, I simply enjoyed having time to empty my head of the cancer-clutter. The only decisions I came to, were to have more holidays and to get a tattoo. No, it won’t be a dolphin.

Feeling the sun on my body and sand between my toes was the best present I could have asked for. Every ray of sunshine a final ‘Up Yours!’ to cancer.

My ‘ghost of Christmas sometime in the near future’ might not be spent lying on a beach, but it will definitely be a healthier, happier one and who knows, next year I might even be tempted into having a turkey sandwich. All that remains to say is:

“Feliz navidad y feliz año nuevo!”

  1. Sounds perfect. Here’s to plenty more like it 🙂 N X

    • Robert says:

      Giving up turkey and all other animal products sounds like a great idea, but then I am biased as I have been without for 30 or so years.
      All the best for the New Year Katherine

  2. jeffriona says:

    Brilliant post, as ever, Kath. However you don’t need ever to explain why you’re putting yourself first from now on – just do it! And screw the ‘over 30s, settled with family and kids brigade’, they’re boring! (speaking as one myself). Do it your own way and don’t let society tell you there’s anything wrong with that!

  3. natstar12uk says:

    Yay to more holidays. Are you really getting a tattoo? Can’t wait to see it! Happy New Year Kath hope to see you soon xxx

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