Merry freakin’ Christmas.

I should have known better. This morning I braved the shops to pick up some last minute Christmas essentials. By ‘essentials’ I mean extra wrapping paper, sausages and a present to myself from my mother (it’s our thing).

There is one word to sum up my experience; and it begins with ‘H’ and ends in ‘ideous’.

The drive was treacherous, I was caught up in a four-wheeled crazed stampede. On arrival, shoving shoppers with poky elbows out at right angles hurtled trollies down aisles, there were no short queues and two people trod on my foot.

I had braced myself for a less than relaxing trip, but this exceeded my worst case scenario. What is wrong with people? Why does everyone get so frenzied at Christmas? It brings out the worst in everyone, in every way.

In aisle three, which is usually the calm aisle of canned goods, there was yelling. Actual shouting and arms raised high in the air.

“There’s no need to shove,” said one angry Grinch.

“I didn’t shove, you shoved,” snapped the other. Had I magically been transported to a school playground? I walked away only to crash into another shopper wandering as if they had a blindfold on, immersed in conversation on their cell.

“Can you check how many we’ve got?” the voice echoed desperately through the phone.

“We might need more…” Obviously an emergency call home, all while trying to steer their trolley with one hand. No wonder my foot got run over.

Christmas cheer is apparently out of stock and aisle rage has been ordered in as a last minute stocking filler. Adding insult to the supermarket showdown, background music of Christmas carols is mocking me, ‘’Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la’ is blasting out over the loud speaker.

Forget jolly, ‘tis the season to over-indulge in every way. I’ve spent too much, stressed too much and gone out too much. Navigating the lead up to the big day has become like an art form.

“Not yet,” I said to a friend when they asked if I’d started my Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago, “It’s too early”.

Now, I’ve left it too late. Where did the middle go? It’s busted, along with my middle.

We can’t get enough of anything. It’s a day of giant portions blown out of all proportion.

I have a fridge full of food but am convinced I may need more. I know deep down that I don’t need more, but suddenly it’s vital that I have three kinds of meat, snacks to feed an entire suburb and 101 bottles of wine. I don’t even drink alcohol but it feels essential that I have supplies to feed and water the entire country, “just in case they pop in”. Why would they pop in? They don’t on any other day. In fact, it’s probably the one time no one pops in anywhere because everyone presumes that people have plans locked in or are with their families.

Christmas has become the ultimate case of keeping up with the Joneses. I don’t know who they are, but I don’t like them.

Having worked hard all year looking forward to some time off over the festive season, we find ourselves not at work and therefore swiftly switch our stress to other things – bickering over what to do, what to watch, who to see, where to go. Domestic issues blow up because we’re actually together and usually serene families turn into Jerry Springer contestants.

When the gluttony is over for another year and we’ve all given ourselves the gift of going up a dress size, the whinging will begin about the embarrassingly bad gifts we’ve been given. ‘I’m so disappointed I didn’t get this’, ‘Can’t believe I only got something cheap’. Consumerism really showcases the most unflattering side of us all. I might just sleep through till New Year and leave my guests to fend for themselves…

After all, it’s not like they’ll run out of food.

Comment: What aspects of Christmas annoy you?