Back on September 16th, it was a really hot day and as a few of us wandered through a Garden Centre in Ditchling, Sussex, our eyes naturally lingered lovingly over Christmas trees and decorations thinking how close it must be to Christmas and that we should place a tree and a Christmas pudding in our basket. Say what?
No! What actually happened was that the sight of a nearly a third of the Garden Centre sectioned off entirely for Christmas stuff so infuriated me I vowed never to go there again. After remonstrating with one of the employees I was advised that it took their ‘team’ a long time to set up the displays and get them all done before Christmas. The thought of maybe employing more people to do it later on didn’t seem to occur.
You’ve got to appreciate that we were there on a glorious late Summer day and didn’t want to be thrown post haste into the Winter and a festival which was still three months off. Now, this is nothing new but I am sure the Christmas period is starting earlier each year. Soon it will start in the New Year sales and we won’t know which year’s Christmas we are celebrating. It appears to me that merchandise has long ago taken the place of the original myrrh but there’s still gold in them thar tills.
This rant was ignited this week by the sight of a neighbouring house all lit up with trees external and internal and it’s still only mid November. So what, you might ask? People who are pre-emptory with their decorations often say they enjoy Christmas so much they cannot wait to do their decorating. Others see it as some sort of status or competition to win for first display in their area. But do they really like Christmas? Surely, waiting for Christmas Day is part of the joy?
Is it not surprising that Christmas trees are now taken down much earlier, often the day after Boxing Day, rather than kept up for the traditional twelve days, and I don’t mean for superstitious reasons. Apparently, everyone is fed up with seeing the things and forever sweeping up needles, unplugging or treading on wires, that the tree falls from grace more swiftly than a Trump at a Clinton rally. Now, if the tree had only been seen for a few days I’m sure most people would like to prolong the agony…I mean celebration.
The point is, those who unilaterally start Christmas in November or earlier are forcing others to endure it too. Garish illuminations shatter the quiet darkness of which, as an amateur astronomer, I am quite fond. The waiting is removed and by the time Christmas week actually arrives nearly everyone has had enough of Christmas adverts and Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ blaring out from every shop etc. Far from enhancing Christmas, it is spoiling it.
No wonder many prefer to shop online these days. I can remember when shops didn’t display any festive trimmings until the first or second week in December. Yes, I’m that old. As children we would peer in the windows and get excited by the knowledge the big day was really near.The waiting should be half the pleasure but in today’s instant, ‘always on’ culture where anyone can buy anything immediately with a credit card, the mystery and dare I say joy, is going.
But this isn’t just the curmudgeonly ravings of a bitter old person who goes down Memory Lane and forgets to turn off because there is no Sat. Nav. direction. No. I enjoy Christmas when it’s actually Christmas. The anticipation of presents, good food and drink, proper Christmas Carols, the stories of the Magi and looking up at the stars (if I can find somewhere dark enough) wondering what that special star might have been.
I think that’s why children and grandchildren can help capture that excitement and joy again. So what if we lie to them saying the International Space Station trajectory is Father Christmas on his sleigh? Christmas should be a special time of wonder and mystery. It’s how the original Christmas night was.
As for premature Christmas lights…perhaps I should ‘lighten’ up and face the electric facts rather than ‘conducting’ my own campaign against it. Currently, as a variation of Ohm’s Law, it seems resistance is useless.
Does anyone agree?