So here we are (again)…
It’s the time when Noddy Holder , Jona Lewie, Wizard etc have their well worn tunes playing on repeat in Argos (and suchlike) from towards the end of September and onwards.
It’s the time when people around us have spent the last few months deliberating on what ‘stuff’ to buy their loved ones (obviously not ‘stuff’ they require, otherwise they would own said ‘stuff’ already, invariably it gravitates to the all too predictable stockpiling of generic ‘smellies’ and socks or some money in an envelope)….
It’s the time when Ed Sheeran , Elton John and Ladbaby are poised to cause even more distress for the bewildered Covid hit households across the land, with an ear achingly cloying (and equally self gratifying) festive number one campaign - just when you thought it was safe to switch the radio on again. It makes me hark back fondly to a few years ago when X Factor monopolised the Christmas charts – at least you knew where you were with the syrupy sweet , massively over produced karaoke by numbers. Don't I know it's Christmas...
Anyway , I digress….
These are the ominous tell-tale signs that the illogical commercial juggernaut we label ‘Christmas’ is on it’s way, even without any geese getting fat (as were the initial clues in much simpler times.) And (just like a migraine) although you are aware it’s coming, there is absolutely nothing at all that you can do about the ensuing madness that will follow.
Having a reputation for being ‘au contraire’ on occasions, it won’t be a complete surprise to many people who know me when I say that I am very much a baa baa humbug whenever it comes to this topic.
Here, are the most frustrating aspects of Christmas for me, some of which you will no doubt be all too familiar with yourself :-
1. I am asked (many times) from November onwards if I’m ‘ready’ for Christmas. Although we try to make it sound as if there is an exciting adventure on the horizon lasting a fair few months (and I know it’s meant to run right up until the 6th January) , Christmas is essentially 3 days (although Boxing Day is slowly turning into the end of year sale day)). So , I still don’t know what I’m meant to be preparing for? It doesn’t make much sense. “Are you ready to spend loads of money you don't have on presents that nobody actually wants and stuff your face four times as much as usual, whilst trying desperately hard to pretend to enjoy the experience?” Yeah , definitely ready... and it gets harder every year. The huge build up and anticipation is never justified by the event itself (this is why Gareth Southgate should be labelled Mr Christmas, as his teams never live up to the expectation caused by the many months of media induced bluster and hype.) Then shortly down the line you are asked if you ‘had a good new year.’ To which I would reply “I don’t know , it’s only January 3rd , wait until at least November and then ask me again when I would have a far better idea.”
2. As the build up to the Christmas bells seem to commence earlier and earlier (largely due to consumerism being both encouraged and exploited by the major chains) it’s not unknown nowadays for people to put up their tree before the Halloween cobwebs have been removed from the windows. This makes me wonder where is this all going to eventually lead. Christmas in July? , Christmas in February? Starting to mention Christmas for next year before the present Christmas build up has finished? Who knows. My Grandad once said that runners are getting so fast and record times are being reduced accordingly, that one day athletes will be passing themselves on their way around the running track. I can easily see us starting to build up to various Christmases in the future. “So, are you ready for Christmas 2028?’ , ‘Well not yet, but I just have to get Uncle Jim’s 2026 present (an Old Spice soap on a rope gift set) and at least I’ll be ready for that one…’
3. You can guarantee that you will hear the phrase ‘it just doesn’t feel like Christmas this year’ or ‘It doesn’t feel Christmassy.’ from several people before and during the event itself. What Christmas is meant to ‘feel’ like, I haven’t got the foggiest yule log. Or do they mean that it’s not like it is in the movies or on advent calendars … again? It never feels like Christmas because feeling like Christmas is an imaginary concept. It’s a fictitious pastiche that has been manufactured by everyone’s glowing, tinsel tinted, frosted recollections of Christmas past. The current Christmas will never compare to the photoshopped picture perfect ideal of your childhood memories and beyond.
In fact , the reality never lives up to the adverts we see on television etc. Yet each year we are fooled / cajoled into thinking that it will… that this year will be different, via the medium of John Lewis, M&S and co. They show a romanticised view, a magical ‘Love Actually’ winter wonderland with everybody smiling and loving the hell out of one another. A perfect postcard vision that is so far off reality chalk and cheddar don’t enter the equation - it’s comparing Danny Dyer with Marlon Brando. We just end up feeling deflated and disappointed that once again it’s arrived and then it’s quickly dispensed with. It’s a squib damper than an octopuses’ laundry basket.
4. My next bug bear is thankfully slowly being phased out anyway. It’s people making big, cathartic public declaration stating that this year they are not sending out their usual Christmas cards, because they have decided to donate a tenner to Oxfam / Red Cross etc instead to highlight the plight of the many unfortunate people around the world. It’s done in the overblown style of the late Steve Jobs announcing a major technological breakthrough.
To these people I would say :- a) Nobody truly cares. We don’t set up a 24 hour vigil around our letterbox throughout December waiting patiently for your card, like a dog waiting for its owner to return home from work, ‘Oh no , where is it , where is Bob and Sheila’s signed offering wishing me season's greetings? I didn’t hear any public statement that there would be issues with it being delivered to me this year, my Christmas and my life will be ruined forever without that bit of corrugated paper…’ and b) The two things aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m sure that there are a plentiful supply of people who choose to give to charitable causes and have been known to distribute cards as well, but choose not to make a gushing statement about it on social media. It’s cheap and needless virtue signaling from people who need to think about perspective.
5. Kevin the Carrot. No more words.
6. Christmas television, specifically TV Christmas Specials. Now I don’t think they have ever been good. Although there are possible exceptions, I can’t think of many Christmas Specials that have surmounted to anything more than mediocrity. You would think that by using the terminology ‘special’ and the fact that it’s Christmas, additional effort would go into making these programmes , however I feel it leans more towards complacency and diminishing returns. “Oh f*** it, just put a couple of hour long Mrs Browns Boys on at peak time, (don’t worry about anything resembling a script.) and then a few films that everyone has seen at least twenty times around it. And finish with some more repeats , topped up with wall-to-wall Alex Scott, Emma Willis and Michael McIntyre.”
Anyway , to all who have managed to wade safely through this festive blog without becoming overly despondent, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I hope that you have made your preparations early and if I don’t send you a card (as I haven't done since 1997, so it won't come as a great surprise) , it means that the money I haven't spent will be donated to a truly worthy cause – thus you can rest safe in the knowledge that your cardless suffering will have helped somebody in the world somewhere... probably.
I'm now off out to finish my Christmas shopping for 2030 and then binge on some Morecambe and Wise Christmas Specials...