This article first appeared in the rather spiffing Epping-based magazine, Magascene (www.magascene.net).
Christmas. I will say it again in case you weren’t paying attention. Christmas. Am I the first person to mention Christmas to you? There is a fighting chance that I will be, which will no doubt provoke unmitigated rage and hatred in my direction for ever more. (But I can take it. I have broad shoulders, and they are covered in tinsel). I have already heard a plaintive cry from a friend that Christmas is getting earlier every year, and I didn’t particularly improve his mood when I pointed out that whilst I have only been on this earth a few decades, I am pretty sure that Christmas has been on December 25th for as long as I can remember and not once did it try and sneak itself to 9th. He was not amused and quite frankly, I am not surprised. No one likes a yuletide pedant.
Personally, I do not mind the appearance of all things Christmas in October or November. I am, by heart, a forward planner, and around about the time that I spy a glittering pack of baubles in the local supermarket, I am just brushing off my Christmas book (yes, I have a Christmas book, I can’t help it – I was born this way) and putting the finishing touches to my present list. I admit that Harrods are probably a little eager even for me, when they unveiled their Christmas shop on July the 26th. Apparently, it was opened by Santa, but that doesn’t perturb me. After all, what they hell else does he have to do in July?
There is absolutely nothing wrong in doing your Christmas shopping two months early – and let no one tell you any different. For a start, it means that you will not be shoved, pushed and tutted at in your local shopping centre as you do battle with the December shoppers. You can peruse at your leisure and can get through an entire shopping trip without swearing at someone else.
And moreover, you need not even leave the house. With plenty of time to go until the big day, you can order everything online, safe in the knowledge that even if they strap your order to a cat and get it to deliver it to you in between naps, you will still have it in your non-sweaty little hands way before the 25th. Whereas, if you leave your online shopping until mid-December, you will have to contend with a snow fall of eight large flakes that grinds the country’s transport infrastructure to a shuddering halt, or face a strike by the Royal Mail, or a flood of biblical proportions forcing posties to deliver everything by canoe.
And you have time to give some thought to your purchases, to really find the right present at the right price to show how much you care. Some years ago, my boyfriend explained to me that all my Christmas presents that year were themed. How thoughtful, I mused, as I unwrapped them. It turned out the theme was that they had all been purchased at ten minutes to closing time at Tesco on Christmas eve. (Surprisingly, that man became my husband, but only when he promised on his life that he would never again buy me a present that attracted ClubCard points).
And there is another advantage to embracing Christmas in October. If you have small children who still find it plausible that a morbidly obese man carrying an enormous sack so big it looks like he has just held up Argos at gun point can fit down a chimney, then you are in luck. Because once Christmas is on the agenda, so are the Father Christmas threats. Or persuasions, as I like to call them. “If you don’t do as I say, I shall phone Santa and tell him what a naughty boy you are. And you know what Santa thinks of naughty boys,” I say, as I pull my mobile out of my pocket and scroll down to ‘S’. The terror in his eyes as he scurries to tidy up his toys is a festive delight to behold.
Go on. Wrap yourself in a bit if scratchy gold tinsel, don an ill-fitting paper hat and stock the cupboard with mince pies two months early. You know it makes sense.