We all need twin­kling lights to cheer up the gloom at this time of year – it’s never too early to em­brace the Christ­mas magic

The Herald on Sunday - - VOICES - Su­san Swar­brick

IT is only mid-Novem­ber and al­ready it has be­gun. A peren­nial whin­ing so pred­i­ca­ble you can al­most set your watch by it.

I’m talk­ing about those who be­lieve they have the right to po­lice the thoughts and be­hav­iour of oth­ers. Specif­i­cally, when it comes to the ques­tion: it is too early to em­brace Christ­mas?

Such in­di­vid­u­als have a pe­cu­liar delu­sion – bor­der­ing on mind-blow­ing ar­ro­gance – that they are some­how su­pe­rior to those who sim­ply want to stave off the bleak mis­ery of it be­ing pitch black at 4pm by string­ing up a few twin­kling fairy lights.

“Not un­til De­cem­ber 1,” they bleat. “No fes­tive songs, films, dec­o­ra­tions or joy in your heart be­fore then.” Ah, be­hold the yule­tide moan­ers. What’s the col­lec­tive noun for that? A groan? A grum­ble? A sour? Maybe like The Grinch their hearts are sim­ply two sizes too small.

I get that the fes­tive sea­son isn’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea. But then nei­ther is the abom­i­na­tion that is the new Poke­mon film and you don’t hear me bang­ing on about it ev­ery two min­utes. So­cial me­dia is brim­ming over with vit­ri­olic posts about when it’s ac­cept­able to start lis­ten­ing to Christ­mas mu­sic, get the dec­o­ra­tions down from the loft or hit the shops in search of gifts. The usual kicker is the claim that ev­ery time one of these ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pens dur­ing Novem­ber, an elf dies. Which is non­sense be­cause ev­ery­one knows elves are im­mor­tal – and love Christ­mas more than any­thing. Duh. Help­ing Santa is their en­tire pur­pose, af­ter all. A 1989 study pub­lished in the Jour­nal Of En­vi­ron­men­tal Psy­chol­ogy sug­gested those who dec­o­rate ear­lier for Christ­mas are hap­pier than those who don’t. To be fair, you don’t need an al­most 30-year-old re­search pa­per to tell you that.

In a world filled with stress and anx­i­ety and sor­row, peo­ple crave com­fort. It re­ally is that sim­ple.

I know fam­i­lies who have cel­e­brated Christ­mas in ad­vance be­cause they have a loved one in the armed forces who will be away on duty when De­cem­ber 25 rolls around. Ditto those with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness whose prog­no­sis means they may not be here to cel­e­brate.

There are those cloaked in grief who seek a brief respite to the ever-present ache that reaches to the very bones of their soul. Putting up Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions might be their way to re­con­nect with mem­o­ries of the good times shared with friends or fam­ily who have since passed away.

But what price are trea­sured mo­ments com­pared to the yule­tide moan­ers be­ing able to claim some oddly per­ceived moral high ground?

Not ev­ery­one likes Christ­mas. I get that. Some de­cry the ram­pant com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion, oth­ers a loss of mean­ing within an in­creas­ingly sec­u­lar so­ci­ety, or sim­ply don’t en­joy this time of year for myr­iad other rea­sons – those are all valid points.

Do you know what else is valid? Those who want to get a jumps­tart on those warm and fuzzy fes­tive feels. Go forth and deck the halls with boughs of holly.

All aboard, next stop Ou­trageville

HEY, you there on Twit­ter? Yeah, you! The one get­ting all bent out of shape about GQ mag­a­zine us­ing “Woman” in quo­ta­tion marks for its Ser­ena Wil­liams cover.

Sadly, in your haste to jump on the first ex­press train to Ou­trageville, you’ve missed the point en­tirely. The words were hand­writ­ten by Vir­gil Abloh, Louis Vuit­ton menswear artis­tic di­rec­tor and founder of Mi­lan­based la­bel Off-White, who has styled ev­ery­thing in quo­ta­tion marks re­cently.

Such as The “Queen” Col­lec­tion de­signed by Abloh in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Wil­liams with its now iconic one-shoul­dered, bal­let tutu-style dress worn by the 23-time Grand Slam cham­pion at the US Open (it had the words “Logo” above the Nike swoosh).

You know, the one Wil­liams donned in what was ef­fec­tively two fin­gers up to the or­gan­is­ers of the French Open af­ter they im­ple­mented a new dress code that would see the all-black cat­suit she wore this sum­mer banned from fu­ture tour­na­ments?

Hope this helps. Wait, was that a one-way ticket to Ou­trageville? Never mind. Some­thing else will come along to get you foam­ing at the mouth be­fore you know it. Hang on in there.

Fash­ion fleeced

MUCH like a stopped clock that tells the right time twice a day, ev­ery so of­ten I find my­self hav­ing a hot fash­ion mo­ment. Al­ready this year I have been at the forefront of the yel­low rain­coat trend. Well, yet again, here I am ahead of the curve. This time: the fleece.

Hang on, I hear you cry. Do you mean shape­less gar­ment worn for dog walk­ing, gar­den­ing, scal­ing Mun­ros and watch­ing telly in the win­ter when fru­gal­ity calls for just one bar on the elec­tric fire?

The very same. Su­per­mod­els Ken­dall Jen­ner and Gigi Ha­did have been spot­ted step­ping out in fleeces of late. Fash­ion la­bel Ba­len­ci­aga is hawk­ing a blue-pat­terned fleece that looks like it fell through the space-time vor­tex from 1982. A snip at just £1,135.

It may – or more likely not – sur­prise you to learn that I al­ready have a size­able fleece col­lec­tion. I feel like one of those fash­ion­istas who throw open their cav­ernous walk-in wardrobes to reveal shelves of care­fully cu­rated Birkin bags. Ex­cept in my case it is an ode to the hum­ble fleece. Re­gard this lit­tle black num­ber, bought in the end of sea­son sale at Whistler-Black­comb circa 2003. It has a half-zip and baggy snow­boarder fit that adds to the over­all louche vibe and is per­fect for lazy morn­ings en­joy­ing a Homes Un­der The Ham­mer marathon. Or per­haps you will like this pow­der blue de­light with draw­string fas­ten­ing? Look how it cinches in at the waist. I prac­ti­cally have an hour­glass fig­ure.

Not to for­get the jewel in the crown: a fluffy choco­late brown master­piece re­sem­bling the fur of an Ewok that even has de­tach­able arms. Voila, gilet! Smat­ter­ing of dog hair op­tional.

Christ­mas comes but once a year, but that does not stop some peo­ple try­ing to stop other oth­ers putting up their holly and dec­o­ra­tions per­haps a bit too early

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