Why do I hate Christmas? Let me count the ways. From its beginning before Halloween to the way it fails to end even with the ridiculous Boxing Day sales, where people queue up for hours to jostle and elbow each other as they scramble for leftover tat. To the discarded detritus, the shredded paper, the empty bottles, the bloated bellies, to the discarded Santa hats and reindeer jumpers – it’s all just a prolonged glut of commercialisation and existential angst.
This is where it begins with countdowns in the shops, early gift offers, embarrassing jumpers to buy, romanticised posters of cherubic kids holding candles on the wall over the seasonal goods aisle – and all before you’ve turned away the first guiser empty-handed from the door.
As the leaves continue to fall, up pop the charity workers shaking their cans at the tills, occasionally with a mini-choir and bad harmonies. The correct response to which is: “Sorry, I don’t do charity – it’s a failure of the Government’s responsibilities.”
You can’t go down a street without the retina-scarring effect of the blazing batteries of lights coming from the outsides of houses, the strings of blinking bulbs, the illuminated sleighs, and Rudolph’s nose like a suppurating plook. Then there’s the obligatory Father Christmas climbing up the brickwork as neighbours compete with each other to put on the most tacky and utterly trashy lightshow.
The National Grid stutters and almost fails but thanks to a few more trainloads of nutty slack for the remaining coal-fired power stations, the burning of imported gas from Russia and the expelled CO2 helping to keep the world warm, the show goes on. Inside the houses, where the residents wear sunglasses behind drawn blinds, the dial in the electric meter blurs and threatens to melt.
What is this about? Showing you have more money than anyone else in the street, if less discernment? Call it the Christmas Covid effect, a total lack of taste.
IT’S trees which soak up all gases we create so why not have a mass slaughter of them at Christmas? You pay £30 for one, drag it home, stick it in a jaw-like contraption on the floor so that it can immediately cast its prickly spines on the carpet or parquet which will take you weeks to clear up – and then you have to dispose of it.
It’s not just for two world wars we have the Germans to blame – it’s this tradition of dragging in trees and decorating them. It started in the 16th century when Martin Luther, the man who ignited the Protestant Reformation, whose lightbulb moment – OK candle – was on a wintry walk home as he was composing a sermon.
We don’t know what it was about but you can be sure it did not involve praising the Tridentine Mass. He looked up at the stars twinkling above the waving pines and thought: “Ye God, what a cracking idea. I’ll just stick some lighted candles on thon tree in the living room and it will all be tickety-boo.”
Apparently he didn’t burn to death although I’m not sure if the house was collateral damage. In New York recently the massive Fox network tree burned down. I don’t know if it was spontaneous combustion or a vengeful Democrat but in the States, Christmas tree fires average two deaths, 12 injuries and $10 million in direct property damage annually.
Every year, UK A&E departments treat more than 1,000 people with Christmas burn injuries, including 350 from fairy lights combusting while 50 per cent of annual fire deaths occur over Christmas.
Some people now opt for a plastic tree which, of course, isn’t recyclable, apart from every year at the same time when it’s dragged from the loft. But it burns just as well.
IS it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Neither from me obviously, but the latter is another of those creepy Americanisms like having a good day, being your best self, or paying for your weans’ proms when they finally stagger out of school.
We used to send cards to each other although in the unlikely event I get one with a festive stamp I tear it up without opening.
Despite the internet, the brand leader Hallmark – based in Kansas City and started by the Hall family – still sells 6.5 billion of them a year. The top seller of all time, from 1977, is Three Little Angels, the plump one on the right with a slipped halo – if it doesn’t make you projectile vomit you have a cast-iron stomach. The angels are white but Hallmark has launched its corrective Mahogany line so everyone can now feel included in the madness.
IT’S that time of the year – the annual contribution to the Noddy Holder Pension Fund, the royalties from Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody keeping him in throat lozenges for the rest of his life. Some of the worst songs ever written are on rewind and if you have your hearing it’s impossible to escape them. Two Little Boys (Margaret Thatcher’s favourite song, say no more) by Rolf Harris came round every year from its release in 1969 (and rerelease in 2008) until he got banged up as a paedophile.
Never mind, there’s always Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry leading the relentless charge.
It sounds like it was composed on a Stylophone. Jona, aka John Lewis, has a Scottish mum, but that’s no excuse. He earns more from the annual anthem than all of his other songs put together. But who would?
Boney M’s Mary’s Boy Child is a recurrent ear worm but fortunately not The Cheeky Girls offering, Have A Cheeky Christmas, which, although difficult to believe, is even worse. A connoisseur of the downright absurd might appreciate the classic song White Christmas murdered by Iggy Pop, who sounds as if he’s singing through his underpants while topping up his gin sling.
And then, inevitably, ever-lastingly, there’s Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? the charity single by a bunch of over-remunerated pop stars trying to raise funds for Africa when they could be paying taxes. The answer? No, they probably don’t because they can’t speak English and the majority of the population isn’t Christian.
THE perennial heart-tugger It’s A Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart as George, is never far away. It was a box-office flop when it was released in 1946 and only became popular when it was put into the public domain, which meant it could be broadcast without licence or royalty fees.
Clarence the angel sees suicidal George on the bridge preparing to jump into the water so he does it himself so that our hero saves him. Clarence, you should have pushed him. There’s always The Great Escape. But unfortunately there isn’t.
And then there’s the mess
If you haven’t made the dinner, there’s the clearing up, the plates, the glasses, the drying of the tears and the applying of plasters. There’s been the havoc of the present opening, the mounds of paper, the broken Amazon cardboard boxes and the gifts in piles you gave and received, all of which are gushingly welcomed but completely unnecessary.
But that’s the spirit of Christmas, isn’t it? More novelty socks for the drawer and the ‘Allo ‘Allo boxset later for the bin.
Now it’s time for …
IT’S downright cruel, elder abuse even, to drag a nonagenarian from her hearth and sherry when she’s recently widowed and her grandweans are brawling to put on the slap and give a TV address.
If there’s something the Queen knows about it’s annus horribilis. She’s already had to cancel the pre-Christmas family lunch at Windsor Castle, but that’s just as well as there would probably have been hospitalisations.
And … religion
LAST and least there’s that. It’s no longer a predominantly religious festival – it’s more like a bacchanalian one. And Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, but probably in spring, when shepherds would be watching their flocks by night.
It wasn’t until three-and-a-half centuries after his birth that the date was chosen.
Pope Julius I chose it in 350AD, probably because it followed the pagan winter solstice and combining Christmas with these celebrations allowed the church to keep the winter holiday tradition while refocusing the knees-up on the new religion.
Nowadays, the closest contact for a dwindling few is the late-night Christmas Eve service after a bibulous evening in the pub.
I may be stingy, irreligious misanthrope, but as the late religious leader, the Rev IM Jolly would have put it: “Merry Christmas, I suppose.”