Looking back over the festive period, Ben reveals why Christmas will never be the same

Despite knowing that this would probably be my last Christmas at home for a good few years I failed almost entirely this year to get in to the true spirit of Christmas...

...Mainly, this was the fault of the Germans who arrived with their tack-filled sheds of grim back in mid-November followed almost instantly by the millions of dwardling lard-arses who if you didn't know better were going out of their way to get in to yours. And when this monstrosity of a creation sits directly between you and your local shop, the concept of "quickly popping out for a pint of milk" is as absent as my affection for whoevers idea it was to have this crap installed in the first place.

But despite sounding like Ebenezer himself, I did, unlike Mr Scrooge, make some effort to get in to the spirit of things - albeit with limited results.

The first of these attempts was "Carols by Candlelight" at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, in which 2,250 middle class white folk pretend to sing carols whilst a bunch of nutters in period costume bang out some festive tunes. Having been for the past two years I was confident that this little number at the end of the concert would lift the spirits but unfortunately it was not to be:

As with the last couple of years I spent Christmas itself with Hannah and this year it was her turn to come to me and on Christmas Eve we both went for the very first time to Midnight Mass at St Paul's.

Now I'm not religious but for some strange reason I have always wanted to go. Despite being christened as a child and and brought up with Christian values, I think the last time I would have set foot in a church was back when I was 7 or 8 years old and following Midnight Mass I can see why at the age of 7 I told my parents that it wasn't for me.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all this is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through his all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge
the living and the dead, 
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and
glorified, who has spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, 
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
After watching the 59 people also at St Paul's that night chant aloud what I now know to be called "The Creed," I became just a little disappointed it took me to the age of 7 to reach the conclusion that this was just a load of old nonsense. I mean with everything that 'we' know today I find it difficult to comprehend how anybody in their right mind can come to a different conclusion... I mean seriously... c'mon people.

Christmas Lunch with Hannah and 
That said, I did for the shortest of moments feel for some reason just a tad humbled as for five or six pews in front of me there sat a middle aged woman and a younger 20-something man who I presumed to be her Son as for at the end of the service he lovingly took her hand, wished her a Merry Christmas and gently kissed her on the forehead. It was a really nice moment and one I shall not forget.

And then as quickly as this feeling had come it was gone and replaced with an overwhelming sense of sadness as it brought me to think of Christmas' gone by.

Where once Christmas was something to look forward to - family-centric, merry and bright - they now, in the absence of my Mum, remind me that Christmas can never and will never be the same again.

I sat there remembering how every year Mum and I would go together to buy the Christmas Tree on the last day of term - something I would look forward to more than words can describe.

And all of this at a time when relationships with other parts of my family regretfully continue to sit at a complete standstill.

Whilst I had a lovely time with my sister on Christmas itself, with great gifts, food and company, I must be honest and say that I was only to happy to see the back of it and see in the New Year.

Merry friggin' Christmas