Lee’s The Corpse-Rat King is set to be one of the most popular debuts of 2012. Here, Lee talks about the way he celebrates… ummm.. about the festivities in his… ummm… he talks about December 25th.



Goddamn, but the idea of writing a blog about Christmas makes me sound like a fucking Grinch. It’s been a long time since I was anything but ambivalent about it, you see. I mean, I have little kids, and they love it, and so I gear up and slap a smile on for their sake, but really: I’m an atheist, so there’s the religious bollocks thrown out the window for a kick off; I’m married to a Jehovah’s Witness, and they don’t do Christmas on the perfectly reasonable grounds that they’d rather spend the entire year being nice to each other and getting together for social occasions and buying each other gifts when they’re needed rather than waiting anywhere up to 11 months when the defibrillator you asked for in January may not be quite so useful anymore; my oldest kid is 19, with a job, and if he wants something he just goes out and buys the damn thing; and as to getting together with family, well—my Mum’s dead, my father has little to no interest in my kids and knows how to show it, my brother’s in gaol and we stopped speaking long ago, the best grandparents my kids have are the parents of my deceased first wife, and the only other family we have is my estranged brother’s ex-wife and her kids, assuming you don’t count my wife’s best friend and her daughter who have been better to us than a whole lot of family but don’t actually share any sort of blood tie whatsoever. Still, most of the people we do call family don’t share any sort of blood tie whatsoever.

The village is what you make of it.

Which in our case means, not so much an extended family, really, as a collection of whomever managed to swim to the lifeboat when the Titanic went down.

So what do we do? I don’t want to just ignore the whole event—much as I might want to, dammit. I love giving presents and getting them in return, and being that this is Australia and not the la-la-sing-along-snowy-subzero-one-horse-open-sleigh wonderland most of you reading this inhabit, I love sitting on my patio in 40 degree heat watching my kids run around under a sprinkler while I down another mango beer and help myself to a second plate of barbecued dead beast and potato salad. (Yes, it’s a cliché, and yes, we all do it round here). But I also love my wife, and respect her more than all of you. Call me unmutual if you will, but I’d happily watch the rest of you go up in flames as long as she’s happy.

Two different people, entirely. No, really.

So: we compromise. We do the presents thing. We get together with those family members with whom we’d like to do the present thing. We don’t do decorations. We don’t do Christmas music, although, to be honest, that’s because we’ve got some actual musical fucking taste as anything. Jam your Bing Crosby and give me the Vandals or Mental as Anything any day. It ain’t really Christmas if Noddy Holder isn’t screaming it through the speakers. We don’t do cards, sorry to the hordes of kids who pass them round at school, although we happily let our littlies draw and distribute their own. We treat it like one big day off from the world.

So maybe I do sound smug and cynical in equal measure, but row your own boat: if you get off on the fake snow and jingly ballad stuff then really get off on it and fuck anybody who doesn’t get the joke. I’m getting old, and weird parts of me crunch when I walk, and it gives me the shits to have to barge my way through a crowd of crabby strangers to get my hands on some 20% off Lego at the best of times. BUT (and here’s the thing): if you must nominate a single day for the dispersal of good will to all and sundry (and have a listen to Tom Lehrer’s brilliant “National Brotherhood Week” while you do), then make the most of the one you choose.

And a Merry Every Day to all.




  1. I have a friend who worked as a welfare officer and financial counsellor, and she used to dread Christmas. It’s a bad time for suicides among people who are isolated or don’t have families, and invariably in January she would end up with a swarm of new clients who’d gotten themselves into ridiculous amounts of credit card debt because of all the presents that they ‘had to’ buy. The ‘spirit of Christmas’ definitely has a dark side.

  2. I used to work with some JW’s. Interesting ideas (from a purely anthropological point of view -I;m also an atheist). We had a meths drinker pass out in front of our building on Christmas eve (also mid-summer) and no one cared. I called an ambulance and told the boss later that it was Christmas, and it’s when we should be doing nice things for strangers. She said – ‘Why only at Christmas?’

  3. Of course, everyone should also listen to Tom Lehrer’s Christmas Song, with the intro.

  4. Well said, Lee. Bravo.

  5. 100% agree with ALL of this 🙂 was just discussing this very issue with the fabulous Debs last night. Me, I do not celebrate Christmas for myself. If my mum is in town I attend the festivities for it is important to her, and she is important to me.

    As for the rest of it, I get terribly irate with aybody who spouts such lines as “… ca’t we all just be nice for one day.” I’m with you – why can’t we be nice to the people we love ALL the time?? Why does it require a special date (which is, in truth, a corruption of a pagan festivity which was closer to what people claim to be the true “spirit of christmas” than the current commercial chaos we see today in terms of love, peace and all that stuff… but I digress)?

    I buy presents for the littlies, because as I said to Deb today, they are too little to understand Auntie Jenni’s philosophical protest against what – to them – is great fun, presents and cake. I wouldn’t dream of taking it away from them.

    As for the rest of it … bah humbag 😉

  6. Sigh. Why is it that, whenever I’m completely truthful in public, I end up sounding like the kind of person who pitches rocks at newborns? :/

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