It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas


by Rick Johansen

Call me a misery guts, call me a grinch – I don’t care. Although I don’t do the God stuff, I do like Christmas, and to be fair, almost all the stuff most of us enjoy has nothing to do with God. But there is a time and a place for Christmas and that’s Christmas, isn’t it? Not any more. I fear. Christmas 2023 seemed to start in October, maybe even before.

Wandering into our local Sainsbury’s this morning was a chastening experience. They’ve had the Christmas aisle for weeks, now, and today, as I picked up a few items I had neglected to order on the on-line shop, the ghastly Christmas music struck up, instructing me to have a merry little Christmas. In truth, this has always been part of my plan and I have already accumulated copious amounts of booze to celebrate The Big Day, but things were worse than that. Staff members were pretty well nearly all wearing Christmas jumpers, at least the men were, and I thought to myself, it’s 1st December. We’ve got nearly three and a half weeks before Christmas Day. This is ridiculous.

I get the feeling that Christmas begins a little earlier every year and I am pretty sure that many stores were selling the usual tat in September. And I know through social media and by driving through this great city of ours that Christmas trees and lights have been on display for many weeks. Yesterday, I paid a visit to a local eatery and there was a long table stuffed with people enjoying a Christmas meal. The table was adorned with crackers and the like and the people sitting at it wore silly hats and, yes, silly jumpers. Why is this?

My feeling is that this is all happening because things are a bit shit at the moment. The cost of living crisis goes on and on and in Rishi Sunak we have a prime minister who rather than wishing to unite the country would rather further tear it apart. Putting up the tree and firing up the lights is, I should imagine, a mood lifter for many people who have been ground down in a country where everything appears broken and nothing works.

I am not someone who particularly enjoys shopping at the best of times and certainly not at Christmas.  In fact, I would walk five hundred miles and I would walk five hundred more just to be the man who doesn’t have to be anywhere near one of the big shopping centres. And happily thanks to the internet and on-line shopping, I no longer have to go anywhere near a shop at Christmas, or any other time of the year, for that matter.

I keep hearing that the real meaning of Christmas has been lost and given that hardly anyone believes in God anymore, it’s hard to disagree with that. But I do believe in Father Christmas because I have actually seen him many times over the years and God not even once, so I can’t believe in him. So, if it’s not religion that attracts me to Christmas, what does?

Well, it’s being at home with family. It’s Zoom meet-ups with much-loved but distantly situated loved ones. Buying family members and occasionally friends nice things for Christmas. It’s a time for trying to find something decent to watch on telly or more to the point avoiding Mrs Brown’s Boys, Call The Midwife and all the other crap that dominates our screens on The Big Day. It’s about drinking a gorgeous single malt Whisky and a top dollar Aussie Red. And cheese. Always cheese.  But unlike the rest of the country – at least that’s what it seems like to me – I don’t really want to get stuck into the excesses until it’s actually Christmas. Somehow, I don’t regard October, November and at least half of December as Christmas. It’s almost as though business folk have decided to fleece us for even more money by extending the festive period to include most of the autumn. What next? Putting up the tree in August? Or why bother taking it down in the first place. Roy Wood said he wanted it to be Christmas every day. The way things are going, it soon will be.

I’d just like to get Christmas out of the way and a major reason for me is that the days will slowly get lighter and there will only be two months left of the British winter, albeit the worst two months.

I’ll definitely have a merry little Christmas, rather than a merry big one. No special parties or Christmas meals for this miserable sod. I just can’t wait (for it to be over).

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