Tis the season

Well, here we are in December.

Hmm. What shall I write about? The current political climate? The Euro crisis? Maybe the perilous future of capitalism?

No. No don’t be ridiculous. Of course not. The only thing, literally the ONLY thing that we are permitted by LAW to talk about in December is Christmas. That’s it. Any attempt to have a non-Christmas related conversation will be met with screeching sirens and the immediate arrival of the Festive Police, who will wrap you up in tinsel and hang you from the highest evergreen.

Just to remind you, the officially-permitted topics of conversation from the 1st December onwards are as follows:

1. Are you ready for Christmas?

Oooh tricky one. Trying to gauge the appropriate response to this isn’t a straightforward matter. Obviously no one is genuinely interested in whether you are, in fact, ready for Christmas. To assume that would be a schoolgirl error. The person asking you this question either A. wants to boast about how ready THEY are for Christmas – presents all wrapped, turkey in the oven and it’s only Advent Sunday – and feel nicely superior at your panicky response.

On the other hand, it might be B. – they’ve done literally nothing at all to get ready for Christmas and they want you to say you haven’t either, so that they can feel better about their shambolic organisation. In either case, saying the wrong thing could easily result in a festive smack in the chops and a seasonal trip to A&E so you are well advised to respond with a nervous laugh and a broad statement like:

2. Doesn’t Christmas get earlier and earlier each year?

This is basically rhetorical. Christmas has been roughly the same time every year since the whole stable/manger/star juxtaposition. But this is the kind of statement that is so self-evidently true that it can only really be met with vigorous approval, so it’s a safe bet. Although it’s difficult to maintain your sense of moral outrage convincingly if it’s mid-November and your nodding agreement sets off the jangling and flashing of your Santa earrings.

3. Isn’t it terribly commercialised?

Why yes it is. Well spotted. This is the conversational equivalent to whistling in the wind. Yeah, every year, we’re all going to cut down. Get off the consumerist band-wagon and make little boxes of home made sweets and hand sewn lavender bags for presents and hand made cards. Money will be saved, and there will be extensive improving activities for the children and the true spirit of Christmas will be restored. Which is all well and good.

But then all of a sudden it’s December 21st, the one hand made Christmas card is a skiddy mess of Pritt stick and patchy glitter only fit for doting grandparents, the chocolate fudge mixture is burnt to the bottom of your good saucepan and after an extensive search you find a pile of half chewed lavender bags in the dog’s basket. So it’s the usual mad dash around Boots for a big haul of three-for-twos to swap with a whole pile of extremely similar presents that the recipients can give away as raffle prizes in the new year.

Thing is though, despite everything, despite the panic and the bankruptcy and the way that the Christmas season creeps into the August holidays these days – well, we can’t say we don’t love it. The rituals are more than comforting – they are life affirming and even beautiful.

If there’s ever a good reason to be a parent, it’s the feeling you get watching the nativity play, tissue in hand, watching your child make the very most of their moment as Third Snowflake. Like our parents did for us, and our grandparents before us. And, if we’re lucky, like our children will do for our grandchildren, and so on down the line of our family and our shared history.

So here’s looking forward to a magical and a Merry Christmas to us all, and here’s to many more, just like them, for years to come.

About number6

I am not a number, I am a free woman. More or less.
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