Devon­life Oh, for JUST 12 days of Christ­mas... Newyork) Afairy­ta­leof

Devon Life - - Promot I O N -

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.

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