Saturday, December 03, 2005
I realise that I'm going to come across like a great big Scrooge here, but I have to admit to being totally Chrismas-ed out. It's only just turned December and I'm already suffering from seasonal overload.
I barely got used to summer being over before the first Christmas ads started muscling in during commercial breaks, tacky tinsle crept into the supermarket aisles and the aural assault of piped Christmas carols started making itself felt in shopping centres. I mean, come on! Is it really necessary to have a three month run up to the festive season? I realise that the UK high street is battening down the hatches and preparing for a lean period, but still... who the hell is giving serious thought to Secret Santa purchases and stuffing recipes when they're still holding onto the remnants of their summer holiday tan? Do they think that if they don't start reminding us about Christmas as far ahead as possible, we're going to forget?
A story all over the press recently here in the UK is a British school headmistress who banned the 'C' word from being uttered within the confines of her school gates until 1st December. I salute her - a voice of rare common sense ringing out clearly in a world increasingly muddied by commercial waters.
The problem with the commercial channels bringing Christmas forward by so much every year is that by the time it actually arrives, we're all suffering from over-saturation. The end result? The excitement and magic of Christmas becomes diluted - boiled down to just another excuse to splash the cash.
Christmas shouldn't be about pure consumer excess; it's not about the acquisition of the must-have toy, or the latest perfume, or the most-up-to-the-minute gadget. Christmas should be a sensory extravaganza of smell (an infusion of cinnamon, pine and orange peel), colour (red, gold, green), taste (turkey, cranberry, chocolate, spice) and most of all, a celebration of family and friendship. We all know that money might be able to buy you all the Christmas trimmings, but it can't buy you love. And a celebration of love, religious or otherwise, is what Christmas is really about.