Are you getting a Kindle for Christmas? Are you getting some device that can run a Kindle app? GOOD! I’m in the mood for posting a serious Christmas message. Season of good will, time for thinking of others, giving and receiving gifts with thanks, but seeing as there are two sides to Christmas let’s start with my bad side. I like that side of me. Sympathy for the devil and all that. It’s not his favourite time of year, so let’s think of him and do the commercial bit first. Especially as I sell my book on Amazon. So…

Can’t wait to unwrap that Kindle? GOOD! From Christmas Eve to the 28th, my eBook will be free! Got no money left because you’ve blown your last lot of pay on Christmas? GOOD! Amazon free store is where it’s at! Got someone else a Kindle for their Christmas present who’s old enough for grown up content or wise beyond their years? GOOD! Guess why! Are you tired of Christmas and need an escape and are just so sick of it all that you’ve downloaded a Kindle app to your device of choice because you’re so desperate that you’re reading a book?! GOOD! You know what I’m going to encourage you to read.

There. Done. Let’s go for serious then. I’m an atheist and you won’t catch me at midnight mass or singing carols, and I don’t have kids so no nativity plays or dressing up as Santa either. I can’t stand how Christmas starts in every supermarket and high-street and shopping mall in November. Don’t get me started on Black Friday or Manic Monday or any of the other days that I avoid like syphilis. I don’t even put a tree up, or decorations. So why do I bother with this time of year?

Because it’s the perfect excuse to show people that I love them, despite everything else going on. I spend time with the family who put up with me talking about my writing constantly, and the friends who put up with me….well, doing most of the things I do and being the way I am, to be honest! I sometimes think it takes pretty dedicated people to tolerate me on my worst of days, but on my best I remember to be good to people. Take time to party with friends and enjoy good food, and a good bar, and when the opportunity comes, be the host. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I like being generous and kind sometimes, and I don’t need the religion behind Christmas to inspire me to do it. But I do like the mood as my background, and those familiar songs we get every year, and going shopping in malls lit up by Christmas lights, or sometimes having someone make that special effort to entertain me in return for something I’ve done, or just because they like me.

Being close to people is what Christmas is about. So show someone you love them. It’s not just Christmas presents or how much money you spend on them that can do that. Write something sentimental in a Christmas card. Tell a joke about old times past. Go for the good old ‘Remember when…?’ Just be the person they love you being, even if that starts with getting a good bottle out and saying ‘Who’s having a drink then?’ I’ve tried to write someone a story as a Christmas present many times, and it’s either turned out to be a story that didn’t work or it wasn’t ready in time. But at least I tried. So, if all else fails, just give someone a hug. Whoever they are, they’re better than your teddy bear. Honest. If only because they’ll make a more amusing noise if you squeeze them too tight.

I can’t really do the ‘think of those less fortunate than yourself’ thing. Not because I don’t, but because a thought isn’t much unless you do something about it. My housemate is volunteering in a soup kitchen on Christmas day. I’ve always promised myself I’ll do it one year, and this year I still haven’t. No, I’m not going to buy that fucking awful Band Aid 30 song just to make myself feel less guilty. (Credit to Geldoff though, for at least saying that if people hate it then they’ll most likely spread the word. There, I’ve done my bit.) One day before Christmas I’ll just have to do the best I can: give people something to read for free. Okay, so you need an e-reading device for my stuff. I wish I did have a print version right now, so maybe I could give a copy to every library I can get to. Perhaps that’s for next year, along with the soup kitchen.

The gift of a story read should always be free, somehow, somewhere, even when it isn’t Christmas or any other occasion. Without a good book to escape to, Christmas would probably drive me nuts. I don’t mind if my family read that sentence, because I’m willing to bet the same might be true for many of them. I’ll do the hugs and presents and plenty of wine thing, and I’ll even wash up after my folks have cooked the roast, but after that it’s back to the books all the way. I did make that post about why every writer should have a TV, but I hate the TV at Christmas – it re-runs the same shit every year. Apart from Home Alone. Kevin rocks, year after year. And Die Hard, because so does John McClain. And Dickie Attenborough in Miracle on 34th Street, because I shook his hand once.

So, seasons greetings from a seasoned troll and purveyor of subversive literature, and if I’ve annoyed you enough this year, give me a review on Goodreads for Christmas.