Black Fri­day, Late Late Toy Show Day, Culchie Christ­mas . . . these re­cent ad­di­tions to the litur­gi­cal cal­en­dar are the new true mean­ing of Christ­mas

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Black Fri­day

(Nov23) You clutch the blood­stained Furby you have wres­tled from a cry­ing child while si­mul­ta­ne­ously kick­ing an oc­to­ge­nar­ian away from some taste­ful kitchen­ware. The kitchen­ware looks stabby and may be of use later in the elec­tron­ics de­part­ment. You streak lines of blood across your cheeks to in­di­cate a suc­cess­ful act of con­sump­tion and your value to a mate.

It’s Black Fri­day. You have a new Amer­i­can ac­cent and a new Black Fri­day name (“Throt­tle-Fist the Pur­chaser”). You have ac­quired many, many bar­gains – food­stuffs, elec­tron­ics, spices from the Ori­ent. But at what cost? How will you re­turn to your nor­mal life after the things you have done? How will you sleep?

“Now that I’ve ripped that lovely white-noise ma­chine from that cry­baby on the crutches,” says you, “I’ll sleep like a god­damn in­fant.”

Black Fri­day was once an Amer­i­can-only phe­nom­e­non, in which busi­nesses en­ticed shut-ins from their homes with low, low prices. We im­ported the con­cept a few years ago along with Net­flix and so­cial iso­la­tion. It’s ba­si­cally The Purge and it’s com­mon to find snooty Twit­ter folk be­ing snobby about it, not re­al­is­ing what a bar­gain means to some­one on a bud­get. Luck­ily you un­der­stand the im­por­tance of a bar­gain. And thus you have killed again for a box of Ne­spresso pods.

The Late Late Toy Show Day

(Nov 30) There can be only one Toy Show. TV3 at­tempted to cre­ate a ri­val show but now that just con­sists of pre­sen­ter Brian McFad­den eat­ing Easi Sin­gles and weep­ing on the floor of an empty ware­house. They don’t even bother broad­cast­ing it any­more.

The RTÉ it­er­a­tion, how­ever, is the most im­por­tant day in the pre-Christ­mas cal­en­dar. Each year hu­man-meerkat hy­brid Ryan Tubridy and a pas­sel of pre­co­cious chil­dren who will come to no good demon­strate the sea­son’s best moulded plas­tic in dance while a na­tion re­joices.

When I was a boy it was clear when watch­ing the Toy Show that most of these toys were fan­tas­ti­cal makey-up things. Even if these won­ders truly ex­isted, they could only be pur­chased in Dublin, which I was told was far away in Amer­ica (I’ve still never been). And so I was con­tent with my hoop-and-stick and the “ac­tion fig­ures” I made by draw­ing smi­ley faces on pota­toes.

Nowa­days par­ents will in­stead be forced to go into debt to pur­chase what­ever de­praved mon­stros­ity their ve­nal, snowflake prog­eny de­mand. You know the type of thing.

An X-Fac­tor-branded karaoke ma­chine that spits on your dreams.

An ac­tion man that sh*ts it­self and can re­cite your bank de­tails. A doll that says “I love you” in a happy voice. A teddy bear that says “I love you” in a less happy voice, then doesn’t be­lieve you when you say you love it too and pro­ceeds to write in­creas­ingly fran­tic and in­ap­pro­pri­ate emails to you at work.

A com­put­erised chess set that says “I love you” in a happy voice, but will, one day, tell you it doesn’t love you any­more and has fallen for your brother Jeff. “It wasn’t planned, baby. It just hap­pened,” it says. Damn it, Jeff!

Any­way, those are the types of toys kids have nowa­days.

The Fine Gael ardfheis

(Nov17-18) Back in Oc­to­ber we had bud­get day, which is sort of like Black Fri­day for mid­dle Ire­land. And last week we had the Fine Gael ardfheis which is sort of like the Toy Show for neo-lib­er­als. The Fine Gael ardfheis wasn’t al­ways a Christ­mas-themed event but since the party now styles it­self as Santa for the in-de­nial wealthy (“the squeezed mid­dle”), it seems apt that it hap­pens in Novem­ber which is now of­fi­cially part of Christ­mas.

The best thing that emerged from this year’s ardfheis was a video of ter­ri­fied cab­i­net min­is­ters turn­ing around to cam­era like sit­com char­ac­ters be­fore be­ing forced to an­swer trivia ques­tions by a cheesily-ac­cented, multi-coloured roulette wheel. This is the first time cam­eras have been al­lowed into a Cab­i­net meet­ing and the first time mem­bers of the pub­lic have seen Leo Varad­kar’s true form. It kind of makes sense, in ret­ro­spect, that the Taoiseach is se­cretly a revolv­ing wheel of colours. We all knew he liked to spin.

Luck­ily the de­serv­ing squeezed mid­dle who get up early in the morn­ing don’t care who rules them as long as they can still game the school sys­tem, skip the hos­pi­tal queues and get top-rate tax cuts they don’t need. So on be­half of the pa­per, I would like to wel­come our new roulette wheel over­lord and of­fer my col­umn as an out­let for its most tone deaf poli­cies.

Cy­ber Mon­day

(Nov 26) A day in which re­tail­ers en­cour­age on­line shop­ping and a day in which, even­tu­ally, the Great Al­go­rithm will just skip the mid­dle-man (you) and send stuff di­rectly to your Eir­code ad­dress based on your pre­vi­ous pur­chases. And you’ll like it. After all, your on­line con­sumer pro­file feels realer than you do at this stage.

John Lewis ad re­veal day

(Nov15) Ev­ery year now, Bri­tain’s ma­jor re­tail­ers make us think about the fragility of ex­is­tence and times past with whim­si­cal Christ­mas ad­ver­tise­ments. Why? Be­cause as ev­ery first-year busi­ness stu­dent can tell you: “Con­tem­plat­ing the fragility of ex­is­tence and times past = sad­face emoji = $$$$”. And thus each Christ­mas we get a clutch of ads that in­volve, at some point, some­one look­ing pen­sively out of a win­dow while melan­choly mu­sic plays. We don’t need these ads in Ire­land be­cause we have the An­gelus ev­ery day, a more ba­sic ver­sion of this ex­pe­ri­ence sound­tracked by bells bong­ing.

In the UK, how­ever, John Lewis ad re­veal day is that na­tion’s soli­tary mo­ment of re­flec­tion. This year’s John Lewis ad fo­cuses on the life of be­wigged, sad-faced, pi­ano fum­bler El­ton John. For the An­gelus ex­pe­ri­ence, just turn down the vol­ume and add bongs.

David At ten bor­ough sav­ing pen­guins day

(Date to be con­firmed) Not an of­fi­cial day of cel­e­bra­tion yet, but it will be soon given how much it al­ready re­sem­bles a John Lewis Christ­mas ad. It was re­vealed this week that, while film­ing a doc­u­men­tary, David At­ten­bor­ough’s film crew spot­ted some pen­guins, the most Christ­massy of an­i­mals, trapped in a gully. They pro­ceeded to forge a snow ramp via which the pen­guins could es­cape.

This shocked some na­ture doc­u­men­tary purists who can re­call an era when doc­u­men­tar­i­ans (like Tories) pre­ferred to let things die rather than in­ter­vene and when At­ten­bor­ough would have prob­a­bly sav­aged those pen­guins to death with his own teeth rather than let them live and pol­lute the gene pool with their fail­ure. Any­way, that won’t fly with the meme-friendly hu­mans of to­day. By next year, we will re­mem­ber this event as David At­ten­bor­ough lit­er­ally sav­ing the pen­guins him­self, pos­si­bly in some sort of bal­loon or zep­pelin. And sure, why not?

Culchie Christ­mas

(Dec 8) Win­ter is com­ing, Dublin­ers, and soon our ru­ral friends will shuf­fle to the city walls, smelling of cab­bage and re­gional de­vel­op­ment plans, in­tent on hag­gling you into a bar­gain and an ad­mis­sion that they now have good cof­fee in Athlone.

“I don’t even own a shop!” you cry, as a Laois man con­vinces you to sell him your shoes and of­fers you his spit­tle-flecked hand for in­spec­tion.

“Now we’re suck­ing diesel!” says the Laois man through a mouth­ful of chew­ing to­bacco, Curly Wurly and TK Red Lemon­ade, and soon you’re sign­ing some mys­te­ri­ous doc­u­ments on the bon­net of his trac­tor.

“What does this even mean?” you cry, be­fore fall­ing to your soft Dublin knees and weep­ing like an English­man ex­cluded from a trade agree­ment.

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