Devonlife Oh, for JUST 12 days of Christmas... Newyork) Afairytaleof
Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat, put at least a tenner in this Grumpy Grockle’s hat. It is December (or at least this is the December issue), so Christmas is just around the corner, but how long has the build-up been?
I first became aware of the C word far too early - back in August, when I was being exhorted to book my Christmas lunch, despite sweltering in temperatures of 20 degrees plus and everyone swanning around in shorts.
In September I was genuinely surprised to discover that in the top five of the best-read items on the website was Devon’s top Santa grottos – from last year! Eight of the county’s absolute best, last updated last December were still being read at the end of summer. Why?
I am sure I am not the only one that wishes that Christmas could be kept to the twelve days around 25 December and be done with it, rather than having it spill out into the rest of the year.
Bah humbug, I hear you cry, but that is not fair. I saw the real Santa when I was four years old, a belief I have clung onto for more than 50 years.
‘Fact is I can genuinely say that I am allergic to Christmas – well Christmas decorations at least’
So what that he somehow came out from behind the wardrobe? So what that by the time I had clambered over my mother’s sleeping form to look out of the window at the sound of the sleigh bells, he had already gone.
So what that my uncle – who assured me he was out helping Santa that night - blamed the fact he was bouncing off the hall walls at two o’clock in the morning -down to helping the big man with the sherry, that I and thousands of other children had thoughtfully left out for him.
He was real that night. Very real.
What I baulk at, and you will have read this before, is the overcommercialisation of all the big events – Christmas, Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and New Year. The enforced jollity and obligatory participation. In every case, the celebrations get longer and longer. Fireworks are no longer restricted to 5 November and Hallowe’en has become up a dressing up fest on a scale few of us ever foresaw.
The Fifth of November and only the Fifth of November was firework night and us youngsters lit our own fireworks. And threw them. Sometimes. Our lanterns weren’t pumpkins, but turnips. Have you ever tried carving a pumpkin with a child friendly blunt kitchen knife?
But back to Christmas. My own brother and sister-in-law light up their whole house from 1 December and then watch as the electricity meter burns through hundreds of pounds (really) before they are taken down again in early January. Oh, the shame.
By the end of October the shops are already piled high with tat and by the end of November pop-up Christmas tree sellers fill every spare piece of wasteland – even the DIY warehouses acquire central aisles of special buys à la Aldi and Lidl.
Fact is I can genuinely say that I am allergic to Christmas – well Christmas decorations at least, something I discovered whilst enthusiastically covering my office in cheap bright and shiny decs from the pound shop one year – just before I had to escape it with streaming eyes and wheezing lungs.
Still, it gives me the perfect reason to put up the minimum now and take them down again as quickly as possible. They, along with forests of cards do, after all, simply clutter the place the up.
And what of the meaning of Christmas and the birth of the baby Jesus? Fraid not. Churches to me are in the main magnificent pieces of architecture that are useful for other people’s weddings and funerals. End of.
However, for all that, I am looking forward to Christmas as I always do – a car crash of a time with relatives who for a good reason don’t see you for the rest of the year. (As they say there is always one weird relative in the family and if you don’t know who it is, it is probably you)
Throw in copious amounts of alcohol, undercooked food, dreadful jumpers and appalling, cringeworthy Christmas music on an endless loop (the one exception being
and you have a recipe for a riot, and I do not mean that in the funny sense.
I am as ready as I will ever be. I have my list; I have my glass of sherry and biscuits prepared. And I have pulled the wardrobe away from the wall a few inches, just in case.