The signs are incontrovertible, it is here again, that rough beast, slouching towards December to be born: Christmas is coming. This morning I left the house in the pre-dawn gloom, and it is likely I will return in the dark this evening.
It’s not because I’m avoiding my neighbours, but because it’s that time of year when the commuter becomes a semi-nocturnal beast, hiding from the pale glare of the winter sun: Autumn. For some it will be April before their brief shuttle between home and fluorescent office lighting is illuminated by the sun again.
There are of course other signs. Is it just me, or are newspaper columns complaining about shops stocking Christmas tat earlier every year, getting earlier every year? It can’t be long before we get the one about office parties, and the terrible selection of TV over Christmas. What ever happened to the Two Ronnies, eh? But these will have to wait before the traditional procession of kids letting off fireworks and whatever happened to “penny for the guy?”, is complete.
It is comforting to know that in, these politically turbulent times, national newspaper columnists will continue to be surprised by things such as “September”, and then become equally startled by “October” and “November”. It truly is the most wonderous time of the year.
I admit that I will miss the sun in the morning, but I can’t quite work up a fury at the coming of a festival that has occurred at exactly the same time for my entire life. Nor can I find myself suddenly shocked that shops are trying to stretch the lucrative Christmas period our as long as possible, as they have always done.
Some people like to buy their presents this early in the year. I was told to bring a box in from the car the other day, and later discovered it was my daughter’s Christmas present. I’m not going to say what it was, she can’t read yet, but her mother reads my column to her when she’s struggling to sleep. But it’s a huge weight off my mind, not now obviously, but come Christmas Eve I be glad she remembered.
There we are: time to put the central heating on, dig out the big jumpers and start taking the vitamin D supplements. Who knows what this coming winter will hold for us? Perhaps the Daily Express will be right this year and we will all freeze under arctic conditions. Perhaps Brexit will finally return us to the Victorian Christmas for which so many yearn, and we will all feel grateful for a lump of coal and a tangerine in a badly darned stocking [Yellowhammer p437].
At the very least I hope I’m ahead of the game in bemoaning winter coming too early and shops selling things. Come back next week when I will be horrified at the existence Cadbury’s crème eggs on a year-round basis.