10 Things…. That Tell Me It’s Nearly Christmas
1. Adverts on TV – the adverts on TV suddenly change from insurance and accident compensation type ads to a schmaltzy, other-worldly type ad where all families are happily having a post-Christmas dinner snooze on a brand new sofa (from DFS), whilst wearing daft jumpers and supping drinks that wouldn’t grace the drinks cabinet of any self-respecting household for the rest of the year and diving into gigantic tins of chocolates that would easily feed a third world country for a week to a background track of musical yesteryear (is there really NO new Christmas music available??!). Any product or service that isn’t even remotely Christmassy gets the Xmas treatment with the addition of a snowman, some jingle bells, a sprig of holly or a dusting of snow on its text.
2. The weather forecasters all seem to start dressing from the same wardrobe. They are either muffled up to the ears in huge hats and scarves because ruthless editors deem it proper to get the presenters acting out the weather forecast rather than just tell us about it. I’m happy enough to know that the temperatures are going to drop below zero but I don’t really want to have it demonstrated by a poor weather forecaster shivering on the roof of the broadcasting studio. The closer they get to Christmas the bigger and more bizarre the headgear gets. If you don’t believe me, just watch!
3. The local streetlights all start to get dimmer the closer it gets to The Big Day. This is due to the increasing number of neighbours who put up their outdoor lights and draining the National Grid in their bid to outdo each other.
4. The supermarkets fill up their booze shelves with drinks that only see the light of day once a year. I mean, when do you ever see Advocaat or Babycham on sale other than in December?? Loosely connected with this point is the price of beer across supermarkets becomes a major decision-making issue, especially in this house. (24 cans for the price of 18 – is this a better price than 16 cans for the price of 12?)
5. Sky sneak in another couple of channels that show only “festive” movies. This can be a good thing; this can also be a Very Bad Thing….
6. Emotions begin to run high and every child that utters the words “Away In A Manger” with a close approximation of melody and rhythm is guaranteed to bring a tear to a glass eye in school assemblies up and down the land. The same also is true of brass bands.
7. Cheesy music starts getting played on the radio. Yes some cheese is good but please, there is cheese and there is cheese!!!
8. Stress levels go through the roof. What with gifts to buy for whom, what food do we need, how are we going to get to see such a person, shopping for everything, decorating the house and all of that sort of stuff it’s pretty stressful for most people. But when you add responsibilities with banding, church activities, working etc the levels get higher and higher. If you’re anything like me then you hit December with eyes closed and fingers crossed that you’ll get through it all with your halo and wings intact.
9. Food pressure starts to mount up. The once-a-year special purchases start screaming at you from the shelves (brandy snaps anyone?) and there seems to be an endless and insatiable appetite for cookery programs that hit our screens at this time of year. Most of them are pretty good – we all need to know what to do with our leftover turkey don’t we? – but some of them are just pure food porn. I mean, do we really want to stuff our turkeys with the minced livers of chicken foetuses and bronze it with the sweat from a sunburnt unicorn to be able to match the stuff they show us on telly? These TV shows (and magazine articles, and newspaper columnists etc) put pressure on us to produce Michelin-starred cuisine for our families when in actual fact we all know that we are going to cook the same lunch that we did last year, in the same way our mothers did it all the years we were growing up which was the same way their mothers did it before. Although having said that, I do enjoy watching Delia and Nigella and Rick and Jamie et al doing their thang. It is as unrealistically entertaining as anything that Walt Disney can churn out, but because it centres on food then Pam’s a happy gal.
10. Christmas Specials start cranking up on the TV. UK Gold are usually the best channel for this, although I am not too forgiving of them for showing endless Only Fools And Horses repeats. Not a favourite of mine, but they make up for their enthusiasm by rerunning The Vicar of Dibley. I still cry at the one where Alice is the Virgin Mary and gives birth in the stable.
Of course, this is my view of Christmas as at stands on the 3rd of December. My mood will no doubt lift the closer it gets!!