At this time of year, I reflect to myself that Christmas is an odd and confusing thing. Not just to me – a selfish, atheist, child-hating miseryguts – but to the monstrous aliens that watch our planet from their hidden base on the far side of Jupiter.

They are forbidden from observing us directly, as this would reveal their invasion plans, but have come to know mankind intimately by intercepting our satellite TV broadcasts.  Exposure to the output of ITV1 has doubtless convinced them that every single one of us deserves to be exterminated in a rain of fire, yet I expect it is their understanding of Christmas that baffles them to the depths of their squishy octopoid brains. Why do we do it? Does it really make us happy? Should the people responsible for those Argos adverts be banished to the depths of the horsehead nebula?

I can’t promise I’d be able to answer these questions for our mucus-encrusted overlords, even if tortured by mind-rays or forced to do battle with a captive mega-walrus from Apha Centauri.  The way we celebrate Christmas is as baffling to me as it probably is to religious people – I don’t recall there being anything in the Bible about the big man’s desire for his manifestation in earthly form to be commemorated by repeats of Only Fools And Horses, lame cracker jokes or a tube of Jaffa Cakes the size of Ronnie Corbett.  I’ve never had a Christmas that resembles the one the aliens are seeing on telly, apart from that time Gremlins adjusted my neighbour’s stairlift and killed a bunch of people with a snowplough.  That one was just great.

The reason for the season is pleasing

The most confusing aspect of Christmas is that kings and presidents everywhere are still so happy to talk about ‘goodwill to all mankind’.  It doesn’t take a pulsating yellow brain the size of a Ford Transit to notice that seasonal goodwill tends to be in short supply, and that many of the richest nations will be taking time out from their reckless overconsumption of global resources to surprise their enemies with stockings full of drone strikes, festive economic extortion and the continued existence of Kim Kardashian.  The recent US elections have thrown up some alarmingly horrible so-called ‘Christians’, most of whom would be better off spending their time helping the poor (noted activity of Jesus) than screeching that the president is going to steal their Hummers and assault rifles to pay for communist healthcare.  The gospels talk a lot about poverty, less so about automatic weaponry.

I’m neither a billionaire nor too likely to get exploded in my bed by a combat drone, so I prefer to focus on the people I’m really supposed to be nice to at Christmas: my long-suffering family.  According to yule propaganda, we’re going to sit round before a roaring fire, sipping on port and waiting for Nigella to burst through the chimney with a sack full of mince pies and an inflatable Cliff Richard for gran. It’s going to be a veritable sleigh ride of joy, and then the friendly snowman is going to fly me off to meet Wallace & Gromit.  There will be no hangovers, no regrets, and no children crying after I told them that Santa is in prison for drink driving.

MISTLETOE AND WHINE

Apart from those children, five minutes before they spoke to me, does anybody really enjoy family Christmas as much as they’re supposed to? My family are nicer than most, yet I still ran dry of festive joy around the time people stopped giving me games consoles to unbox.  I still unbox games consoles, but now I’ve bought them myself and am not expected to share them, talk to people in-between playing them or change my underpants if I don’t feel like it.  No log fire burns hot enough to melt the ice in my heart; I am a gaping maw devoid of merriment and festive cheer.  However, I do have a copy of Halo 4 to unwrap.

I still like eating a lot, and playing board games, although I don’t much care for turkey and would dump Pictionary in favour of Twilight Imperium, a fourteen hour marathon of backstabbing, cruelty and galactic domination.  It’s meaner than Monopoly, weighs as much as a coffin and involves fantasy space warfare. Did I mention Christmas parties yet? No? That’s because I don’t get invited to them, for some reason.

UP THE CHIMNEY

If anybody does invite me to parties, the second I hear Christmas music I flash back to years spent working in retail, and freak out Rambo-style before diving through a window and wrestling some policemen.  I hate Christmas music like Donald Trump hates people who look convincing in wigs, and am doomed to suffer because Christmas music manages to get more awful every year I’m alive, thanks mainly to the X Factor.  I probably dislike the X Factor more than anything I’ve ranted about earlier in this article – which is really saying something.  It’s a manipulative, floodlit pantomime; a cabaret comet of galactic awfulness that swings round each December to shower us with terrible music, hackneyed performances and the artistic equivalent of those people who cold call you at midnight to talk about payment protection insurance.  Speaking objectively, I believe the X Factor is worse than the combined forces of animal cruelty, paper cuts and Hitler.

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

I must stop now, as it’s only the start of the month and I need to make sure that I reserve enough loathing to get me through the next month of inescapabale commercialism and people who wear wacky santa hats to the office.  Like the Queen, I too have a seasonal message, although unlike the Queen mine is too full of rude words to be reproduced in print.  Maybe it’s because my life is more demanding than living in a palace and occasionally cleaning up after the corgis.

I leave you with this: Christmas may have turned into one giant secular cliche, but it’s a cliche that involves cakes, brandy and a few days off with people you can just about tolerate.  There are much worse ways to spend your time, such as being cornered by me at a party after I’ve had too much mulled wine.  Laze about in your pants, pull a few crackers, and try not to run anybody over with a snowplough. Don’t watch the X Factor though, or I’ve got a gift-wrapped drone strike with your name on it.