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One Saturday afternoon in October I heard ‘Jingle Bells’. No, it wasn’t my iTunes shuffle gone wrong, it was the music soundtrack at work treating everyone to some early festive cheer, but somehow I don’t think any of us were ready to be rocking around the Christmas tree. After all, it was still autumn; I needed treacle toffee jaw and pumpkin carving first, not a dose of Nat King Cole’s finest.
When you work in retail the burden of celebrating Christmas from August is inevitable, and I could deal with it if the customers didn’t seem to hate it as much as me. “Oh it’s far too early to be selling tinsel,” I get over my shoulder six times of a weekend. Yes, I know it is, but for those people who like to stock up on their stockings in September, we’re ready and waiting to deck their halls with bows of overpriced holly.
By now I think I’ve got used to the fact that Christmas is coming, the Coca-Cola truck is doing his rounds and some random I’m A Celebrity winner is selling frozen party treats from Iceland in every Corrie break from here until new year. But with sleigh bells ringing for months before December do we really get a chance to be surprised by all this festive cheer anymore? Are retail marketing, advertising and The Park Christmas catalogue advert in March all getting to be a case of too festive too soon?
With tinsel thrown in our face by shops and supermarkets since October it’s no wonder everyone loses their baubles and goes into overdrive with festive planning. Put it this way, when you buy your Christmas cards in the January sales you know your preparation has gone a little bit too far. Yes Mother, I’m talking to you. From presents for your third-cousin-twice-removed to food to feed the five thousand, Christmas is becoming a military operation to be planned right down to sourcing the best the brandy butter the whole year round.
When my Grandma was little times were simpler; she got an orange and a piece of coal on Christmas morning and she was sorted. Yes, I have to admit if I opened my presents and I was greeted by a shrivelled clementine I’d be a little disappointed, but the extravagance which retail throws in our faces for months on end has lead to people thinking bigger and better is necessary.
I know I’m beginning to sound like my dad with his bah humbugs and cursing of carollers but when you begin to set up Christmas displays in work six months before December just to make people get into panic mode and buy sixty presents they don’t need, it’s hard not to start siding with the grumpy one.
However, to be truthful, I really do love Christmas; it’s about spending time with the people I love and eating a Terry’s Chocolate Orange every day for a week. But while November is still lingering, forgive me if I ignore it for a while; my sanity, and my waistline depends on it.