Column: Christmas cheer starts earlier each year
I don't know if you've noticed, but it's Christmas. It may not be snowing outside, but according to retailers we now hit Christmas around October. Is it me, or does the festive season start earlier each year? With the risk of sounding a bit humbug, it's a bit of a rum deal when you can buy advent calendars along with Halloween fare. I kid you not. But it doesn't stop there. Cynical retailers are penciling in the festive season earlier to try and maximise the season of goodwill and squeeze maximum profit out of us. Take Amazon. According to the internet giant, Christmas started last Monday - 14th November. The fireworks had barely fizzled out when we were being bombarded with a massive 12-day sale, culminating in Black Friday. I don't know about you, but when I think of Black Friday, I think of people banging each other over the head with a frozen chicken to grab the last 60-inch television from the supermarket shelf. Where's the goodwill in that? It doesn't matter, I hear you cheer, because you can pick up lots of old tat for a fraction of the price. Humbug! And don't even get me started on the Christmas adverts. From bouncing boxers (John Lewis) to Mrs Santa Claus acting as 007 Jane Bond (Marks and Spencer), aren't we beginning to lose sight of what's really important ? For me, Christmas isn't about gifts or how much you spend on one another, it's about people. After all, come summer, when that nutribullet is gathering dust at the back of the cupboard, who cares how much it cost or where it came from?
When my children were younger I used to let them decorate the tree. Yes, it looked as though it’d been smeared in glue and dragged along the floor of a tinsel factory, but they loved it. It wasn’t neat or even colour coordinated. It wasn’t even pretty - it was a psychedelic nightmare, garish, with years of homemade decorations, and topped off with a fairy made from a peg and a paper plate. But the kids loved it, and to me that’s what it was all about. We don’t need bouncing dogs or action-packed Christmas ads to get us to part with our cash. Presents and gadgets aren't important, but friends and family are. As we get older and lose people along the way, we realise this. So you can keep your Black Fridays and advent calendars in October, because I refuse to take part. I'm officially on strike. There are twelve days of Christmas, and the last time I looked none of them started in November.