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Nat Locke: Spare a thought for those dealing with a nightmare before Christmas



This time of year is a whole bucket of fun, isn’t it? I thought maybe it might be a nice time to take a moment to spare a thought for those who are doing it a bit tough right now.

Like all the retail workers. Oh, the poor retail workers. Their days are filled with harried customers who either have no idea what their loved ones want, or whose loved ones have been hyper-specific about what they want.

Either situation is bad, obviously and difficult for the retail workers to resolve. And that’s not all. They also have to explain repeatedly why it said an item was in stock on the website, but it definitely isn’t in stock now. (Spoiler alert: there are other customers who also bought the same thing.)

And retail workers have to do all of this while Christmas carols blare incessantly on a loop, AND they’re wearing novelty reindeer antlers that jingle when they move. And after a couple of hours, those novelty head bands really start to pinch in on your skull. Yep, spare a thought for them.

And what about the poor postal delivery people? It’s getting hotter and hotter at the same time as their job is getting more and more demanding. And everyone — EVERYONE — is waiting on something to be delivered. Of course, delays in the system due to flooding over east aren’t exactly the fault of the person standing at your doorstep with your mail in hand, but you can bet your butt they’re copping the brunt of it, in the heat, while they’re pulling the long hours. At least they don’t have to listen to Christmas carols while they do it, but still. Tough gig.

And speaking of tough gigs, spare a thought for the party bus drivers too. Sure, it’s a lucrative time of year for them, ferrying all those work Christmas parties from one venue to another, but then, have you ever thought about the things they have to witness? Every person who gets on one of those buses thinks they are the first to dance suggestively up against the pole. And while they are also spared the monotony of repeated Christmas carols, they do have to listen to Horses and It’s Raining Men at obnoxious volume levels several times per journey. It’s a lot to endure.

And finally, and perhaps, most importantly, spare a thought for every woman who has a man in their life who says, “I don’t know why you get so stressed out at Christmas” while she is wrapping all the presents she bought for HIS FAMILY. And gents, if you’re tempted to utter those words, ask yourself what the kids’ teachers got as an end-of-year present. Ask yourself who’s bringing what to the family Christmas lunch. Ask yourself how you’re going to fit the 10 extra people who are now coming for that lunch. (You might think this is a hypothetical situation, but I actually know someone who was informed quite recently that an extra 10 people were coming to her house on Christmas Day. TEN EXTRA PEOPLE. I don’t even have enough chairs for 10 people, let alone 10 EXTRA people.)

Yes, it’s horribly gender cliched, but it really is the women of the family who tend to do the heavy lifting of the mental load at this time of year. And by mental load, I mean, all the planning, thinking, strategising and communicating that make the festivities work. And that’s on top of the general mental load of end-of-school year, and the vast array of Christmas events, when every organisation that you’ve ever had any dealings with has a festive gathering. From junior sports clubs to book club to the dog park, there are Christmas parties galore and all of those parties require a contribution of something to eat and drink and maybe a Secret Santa gift. Yeah, mum does all of that too. And I know that dads are like, “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it” and they genuinely mean it. It’s just that mums are sick of being the project managers of everything. Because while the doing of the stuff is quite exhausting, it’s the endless thinking about it that really beats you down. So yeah, spare a thought for them. Spare an extra 10 thoughts.

Now, I’m taking a bit of a break over Christmas (no need to spare a thought for me!). So, however you celebrate, have a safe and fun festive season and I’ll be back in the new year when we can all be collectively aghast at the fact that it will be 2023!

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