Christmas

“Christmas comes but once a year.”

So goes the old saying, to be perfectly frank I would be happy if it only came once a decade.

I have no truck with the mythology surrounding the Christmas Story but, in a way, that is academic as it has little to do with the celebration anyway. After all early Christians simply latched onto and hijacked what had been a Pagan Festival for millennia before their story was conceived.

In the Northern hemisphere there is nothing wrong with marking the passing of midwinter and a festival is as good a way of celebrating the occasion than any other.

Homo sapiens are to a greater or lesser extent (some of us less than others) a sociable species, so a good knees-up and getting together with family and friends is no bad thing.

What really annoys me about Christmas is it has now become overly commercialised and has become an excuse for many to spend more than they cannot afford, forcing many families deeper and deeper into debt.

The shops don’t help matters either. Certainly here in the UK the “festive season” seems to be starting earlier and earlier each year, at the current rate Christmas will soon begin the week after Easter.

I’m not an admirer of many things American but one thing they do get right is their approach to Christmas. With the Thanksgiving Holiday late in November their Christmas season does not begin until after Thanksgiving, giving a sensible one month build up, a more than adequate amount of time.

I’m no fan of the introduction or the importation of American traditions into the UK, we only need to look at the horrific Trick Or Treat, but if the introduction of a Thanksgiving Holiday here led to a one month lead-up to Christmas then I may well become a supporter.

Although I suspect what would happen in reality is the shops would turn it into yet another commercial extravaganza with the pre-Thanksgiving sales beginning in August!

There are  so many things I dislike about Christmas I could write a tome to rival War And Peace but here are a few of my favourite moans. 

Christmas Cards

Christmas CardsWhat precisely is the point of Christmas cards except to boost the profits of their manufacturers and vendors?

You are deluged with cards from people you don’t hear from for the remainder of the year.  People who, in all honesty, probably only send you a card because they don’t want to be the one to break the cycle of card sending.

Even worse are the “newsletters” that are enclosed with the cards.

Do I really care how their precocious spoiled brats are doing at school? Do I really care if he has been promoted to deputy, semi-chief dog’s body? So what if she has been to weekly Pilates classes between being voted Mother of the year?

Have you also noticed how nothing bad ever happens in their saccharine coated lives – it’s only ever good news.

The brats never get less than A+ at school?

She never has hormonal outbursts which make the life of the family hell for one week every month.

There’s no mention he’s been shagging his work colleague and staying out late because of said hormonal outbursts.         

Then we have the conscious salving charity cards – do people bother to ask how much of the inflated price of the cards actually goes to the charity they are supporting.

Add on 50p for a second class stamp and then work out how much money you are wasting on a card which will be viewed for 30 seconds and then be added to string of others only to be thrown away the day after Christmas.

Instead of throwing the money away on cards why not make a direct donation to charity.

 

Christmas Parties

Christmas PartyThese are something to be avoided like the plague.

The one night a year you have to socialise with work colleagues you wouldn’t be seen out dead with any other time of the year.

Across my 30 odd years working life there are no more than a couple of dozen people with whom I have worked that I have also wanted to meet socially outside of the working environment.

Yet at Christmas we all have to be friendly and chummy. 

Let’s be honest, with many of our work colleagues, it’s bad enough having to put up with them day in, day out in a working environment. How many people we work with do we really and truly want to spend any time with, even at work?

Once you get to the party it is like walking through a minefield. The booze invariably flows, as it does so, tongues and inhibitions begin to loosen and as sure as night follows day someone will end up saying or doing something they will later come to regret and the repercussions will last long beyond Christmas.

 

Christmas Presents

Now we come onto the true sound of Christmas – not choristers singing carols, or Noddy Holder blasting out “Merry Christmas Everybody” and raking in £500k in royalties every year but the sound of tills ringing.        

Christmas PresentsWe have the guilt ridden parents who spend more time working than looking after their children trying to assuage their guilt by pandering to their offspring’s every demand.

With pernicious advertising and marketing children are demanding the latest “must have” gadget, which they will have grown tired of before The Queen even draws breath for her speech.

Manufacturers will always ensure there is a “new” model, no matter how insignificantly it has changed from the previous version, available for Christmas, knowing the child will be a social pariah if they don’t have the updated version.   

The trouble is these parents do not have the nous to realise what they are doing is creating a generation of spoiled children who think it is their “right” to have whatever they demand.

We have a generation of children who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, whilst at the same time we have parents getting deeper into a spiral of debt to support this consumer greed.

Children need to learn at an early age they cannot have everything they want.

 

Food

For me one of the most annoying aspects of Christmas.

Visit any food retailer in the days before Christmas and you would be forgiven to think we are about to face a nuclear winter when you look at the amount of food and alcohol piled up in their trolleys.

Yes there are family gatherings but as I see it, if you take away all the razzamatazz, Christmas lunch is no more than a glorified Sunday lunch and we don’t overfill the trollies if the family are round for Sunday lunch.

Christmas DinnerI am an excellent cook and, frankly, I would be extremely annoyed and insulted if my guests for Christmas lunch spent the morning stuffing themselves with sweets and nibbles, ruining their appetite for the main event.

Christmas SnacksSimilarly, I would also be offended if, having eaten an excellent lunch, they then went on eating sweets and nibbles all afternoon afterwards. 

Indeed my Christmas lunch is so good the family can barely manage a Christmas evening tea, never mind inter meal snacking. So what is the point on spending a fortune on tins of sweets and other nibbles?  

Then there is the amount of alcohol consumed. Probably a double edged sword as many people need alcohol to get through a day spent with the extended family but in doing so the inhibitions, as with Christmas parties, drop and the rows begin.

Why buy a turkey which would feed the entire street never mind the family?

What isn’t eaten on the day either goes to waste or the family are force fed variations of turkey until the New Year at which point they are sick to death of the beast.

Plus, and it grieves me to say it, cooking a huge turkey is beyond the ability of too many cooks and it will either come out too dry or, even worse, under-cooked and the day will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

 

Christmas Television

Christmas Television ListingsWhat has happened to Christmas television?

In my younger  days we had entertainment spectaculars be it Morecambe and Wise or The Two Ronnies. We had special, entertainment, programs.

What do we have now – hour long “specials” of the soaps, which are already on four nights a week and you can guarantee the story lines will not be happy and jolly.

Then we have “festive” editions of Downton Abbey, Call The Midwife and Dr Who – what the hell is festive about them? Most of the universe visited by the good Dr doesn’t even know what Christmas is and what’s the difference between a birth on 25th December and any other day?