It’s hard to blog about Christmas without colluding with its intrusion into our lives with the subtlety of a porcupine on a bouncy castle. It has even become traditional to be accused of being Mr. Scrooge for taking issue with Christmas countdowns from September. People pull faces, as though you’ve asked them to proofread a CV including skills on how to ruin a party and experience in drowning puppies.
“It’s Christmas!” people say, like it justfies the sort of taste-relapse last witnessed in a Las Vegas’ advertising board rejection pile. It’s actually December people, not Christmas, they are not the same thing. Last time I looked it didn’t read …September, October, November, Christmas.
Travel Lodges along the A1 have been urging bookings for their chsitmas party since October to avoid disappointment, as though festivities without the reek of cheap affairs, accessible parking and Lenny Henry adverts are lacking. It’s unlikely that anyone anticipating this level of excitement for three months will have survived it.
Of course, as a slight breather before the schmaltz of John Lewis adverts, there’s now Black Friday. It’s something else the US has exported in further revenge for having bought the wrong London bridge in 1968. Black Friday sounds more like an Avengers film than another day to go shopping on. It’s a great opportunity to watch people fight over television sets bigger than their personality. Mind you, apparently this year it was all done online, which meant turning down the existing TV to hear the delivery.
However, no sooner have shops necked 20 paracetamol and lain down with a wet flannel over their face, the aforementioned John Lewis advert appears. It has thus far sucked the life out of Oasis’ Half the world away, which to be fair doesn’t take much. One depicts a man more willing to learn how to breathe on the moon and defy low-gravity than endure another Christmas. He looks the sort to be horrified at being used to flog reassuringly heavy kitchen appliances with lifetime guarantees. The only thing protecting John lewis from litigation is that he’s imaginary.
But, with marketing departments spending summer holidays downloading festive fonts to back Christmas campaigns more insistent than suburban car alarms at 3am, then what hope do we have. I don’t have a problem with Christmas, it’s the opposite. It’s wanting to preserve its sanctity. It used to be a treat, the only day of the year anyone would feast and exchange presents. The roads were quiet and no planes in the sky. It felt different, now it’s out of control.
People unable to delay any gratification put trees up that they’ll have stopped appreciating by 25th December because they’ll have dropped al their needles. For 24 days children eschew breakfast for chocolate in advent calendars, while Christmas lists simply refer Father Christmas to the entire Smyths Toy catalogue.
Petrol and leather inner soles aside, you can’t buy anything without a yuletide twist. But perhaps marketing isn’t going far enough. M&S might have festive lunch specials, but maybe reindeer sandwiches could catch on. This could even be rolled out (excuse pun) throughout the year, to include bunny sandwiches at Easter.
While children play along with their parents’ apparent belief in Father Christmas. Families without chimneys struggle to explain how Santa Claus gains access to their flat, and why such criminality is tolerated, and why he doesn’t use Amazon like everyone else. Perhaps he has issue with their deeply questionable tax arrangements.
If we buy christmas trees any earlier they’ll be ignored before Halloween, itself a self-created event displacing the more historic Guy Fawkes night. Perhaps there’s a way out of this. Perhaps, we should pursue this to its eventual conclusion, until all historic public holidays are merged with marketeers inventions, and we have a mega-mix of every day commemorating something, apart from Empty Day. Where nothing happens, and we can just relax. Apart from moaning “I couldn’t eat another thing,” before shovelling in more After Eights, the little black wrappers fluttering around like funeral confetti, and falling asleep.
Of course the prefect stocking filler is The Life Assistance Agency is available now – myBook.to/lifeassistance and in all good bookshops, including Foyles.