There’s a whole quarter of the year left until yer man comes down the chimney and empties his sackful of Apple products, video games, and perhaps even the occasional toy, all over your floor. Yet apparently we need a whole three months to plan the incredibly complicated geometrical puzzle of how to arrange the baubles on our tree, or the equally challenging enigma of whether to put the plastic snowman that sings ‘Jingle Bells’ on the windowsill or in the porch, before the thing goes off for the hundredth time that day and you beat it into a pile of circuits and white fluff with a poker in a fit of eggnog-induced festive rage.
Because we need such a long time to coordinate our festive period the nation’s shops have kindly removed anything that doesn’t meet the required level of jolliness, and filled their windows and aisles from floor to ceiling with cheap tat, in order to imbue us with that unmistakeably Christmassy feeling of being surrounded by cheap tat. Every square inch of every shop is full to the brim with useless but confusingly desirable Christmas knick-knacks, while tannoy systems blare the same six or seven famous Christmas songs at you in order to annoy you into purchasing something just so you can leave to regain your sanity. Until the New Year it will be impossible to enter a shop without buying at least seven reindeer-related objects, and leaving in a daze covered in spray snow, tinsel and saccharine yuletide goodness.
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is undoubtedly the best time of the year. Despite that crazy Nazareth cult trying to hijack the holiday and turn it into a celebration of peace, love and other such boring concepts, the festive period has instead stayed true to its Pagan roots whereby Germanic nomads would agree not to kill each other with sharp rocks for one day every year. Instead they got together to eat turkey and stuffing sandwiches, drink gallons of booze and watch half of The Great Escape before falling asleep. Books of lore also tell us that they gave each other gifts which would seem extremely outdated by today’s standards, such as black-and-white Game Boys and first generation iPods. It’s certainly a much more wholesome origin story than the one about the carpenter, the virgin and the farmyard animals in a barn.
The problem with looking forward to Christmas for such a long time is that it ruins the excitement of the actual holiday. By the time December comes around we’ll be so saturated with all things Christmas that we won’t want to see another Santa hat, Christmas cracker or chestnut roasting on an open fire. Although to be fair I’ve never seen one of those and it sounds more like something a squirrel would do to celebrate Christmas.
The tedium of enduring such a long Christmas season hasn’t been helped in recent years by the constant snowfall that now seems to occur annually for at least a month. Snow used to be a novelty in this country, like a solar eclipse or a sound bus driver. Now we’re bombarded with the stuff every year, and there are only so many giant snow penises to be crafted to offset the annoyance at the complete disintegration of all of the country’s services. It takes us about ten minutes to run out of sand and salt, after which the only way to get around is to hesitantly tiptoe everywhere in the hope that you won’t slip on the compacted ice and become the laughing stock of the country. The odd snow shower is nice and seasonal but there’s nothing festive about not being able to get home from the pub without breaking your tailbone.
As everyone who’s anyone will tell you, the Christmas season officially begins upon the first airing of the Coca-Cola ad on telly, and ends when there’s nothing left in the Roses tin except empty wrappers and partially digested hazelnuts. With blatant disregard for these time-honoured traditions, the shops continue to force Christmas on us earlier each year. It’s bad enough having to actually go Christmas shopping at Christmas, battling your way down Henry Street past stalls of taxi drivers selling stolen packets of razor blades and haggard old women with beards hawking all sorts of cheap shite that you wouldn’t give to your worst enemy.
For the sake of the integrity of Christmas, it’s about time we banned all mention of the holiday until the month of December. Then we can go back to being miserable for all except a tiny portion of the year, which is exactly what makes the excesses of Christmas worth looking forward to. We’d then have eleven whole months completely free of overly commercialised nonsense being shoved in our faces from every direction. Except for Halloween obviously. And Easter. Oh, and Valentine’s Day. And Paddy’s Day. And now Arthur’s Day of course…
You know come to think of it, the older I get the more I find myself empathising with the Grinch. Bah Humbug and a Happy End of September to everyone. Your card’s in the post.