Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Watch

When does Christmas (or Winterval, as we like to call it here at Sleaze Towers), actually start? It's a question which perplexes me every year. Is the old cliche that it seems to start earlier every year actually true? Or was it always this way, and we just like to think that it was different when we were children? Certainly it feels as if the municipal decorations go up earlier than they used to, usually in mid-November these days. I can't help but feel that the Americans have an advantage over us here - having Thanksgiving at the end of November means that Christmas can't start until after this holiday, thereby giving it a clear starting point. Here, it just starts sneaking in throughout November. It insidiously appears in dribs and drabs - one day you might notice that your local supermarket has started stocking Christmas puddings, a few days later you might catch a snatch of John and Yoko singing 'This is Christmas' being piped over the tannoy in the newsagents, then odd bits of tinsel start creeping into shop window displays. Before you know it, Christmas has bloody arrived and everybody is in a blind panic about it.

Clearly, we need a definite starting date for the festive season in order to avoid being ambushed by it. Now, if I had my way, it would be the 18th of December, thereby cutting down the period of Christmas shopping mania to just under a week. Realistically, though, this just isn't going to happen - retailers obviously want the shopping season to last as long as possible in order to maximise their profits. A more realistic start date would be the 1st of December. We need legislation to prohibit the putting up of Christmas decorations, the playing of Christmas-related music or the sale of seasonal goods before this date. Throughout November there'd be a 'Christmas Watch' by council officials, in order to stamp out any non-compliance. Now, I know there'll be some people out there who brand me as being 'anti-Christmas' for having the temerity to float these proposals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I just want Christmas to feel special again. With the festive season starting earlier and earlier, it is difficult to see it as special any more - when the decorations are up for that long, they become over-familiar and Christmas becomes a routine event. I miss the 'good old days', when Christmas only seemed to last a few days - it seemed a bloody sight more enjoyable then!

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