I’d never, ever, had anything against Christmas – its a precious time that should be enjoyed every single year by all. But people who jumped on the band wagon too early and started decking the halls the moment Halloween had passed had always made me cringe.
Christmas for me, wonderful as it was, had an acceptable start date. To pre-empt this was overkill, it was as simple as that. And for me, that start date was December 1. Not a scrap of present purchasing would be done before then, nor any toying with tinsel. There would be no pigs-in-blankets, nor paper hats, party rings or pâté on toast. Mariah the messiah would be locked safely in her box, Bublé sealed firmly in his bubble, and even Noddy Holder himself would be nowhere to be seen.
Yet when the clock struck midnight, and December was officially with us, my merry Mr Hyde would step into the shoes of my dreadfully dreary Dr Jekyll, and the flamboyant festive beast within would be released.
Straight to my local on the first of the twelfth, a crisp tenner has for years been spent on a shot of sherry each for me and my pals (classy bird, ain’t I?), with another splurged on the sacred jukebox’s entire back catalogue of Christmas tuneage. Shake my hand Mr Stevens; step in Sir Elton; George – don’t keep your distance; and as for you Mr MacGowan, let’s hear those bells ring out.
For the following month it’s always been turkey sandwiches morning, noon and night, tree and deccies up at the first opportunity, and all in all a jolly old few weeks of revelry washed down with a thousand gallons of mulled wine and a king’s ransom in mince pies.
But not before December. Never, never, not ever. Until, ladies and gentlemen, the fateful year of 2021, and the moment that this hardened Ebenezer became an early-Christmas geezer.
I don’t quite know what came over me. It could have been salivation at the thought of pending festive markets. It could have been the fact that last year’s Yuletide season fell (let’s be honest) pretty flat. Or it could have been – and in all logical likelihood was – the fact that my Venus, significant other, and shipmate on life’s leaky loveboat, would happily celebrate Christmas every day of every week of every year if she could?
But why ever it occurred, the major shock is simply that it did. One day, in albeit this cold November, I found myself breaking one of my very few sacrosanct rules, and – entirely of my own volition – sat down in front of the telly, hovered over the Christmas film tab of a certain well known streaming provider, selected an inappropriately festive title, and pressed play. And then I watched another. Then later that day another. And then following that, two more.
During the course of one incredibly early morning along with a rather late evening I ingested four separate Christmas flicks, and the day itself – as it is even now – was over a month away.
I’d become everything I used to hate. But I just couldn’t stop. What began with a curious glance at a new seasonal offering from Netflix (oops... other streaming services are available, sorry Mr Bezos. Incidentally, additional streaming services other than his are also available... he’ll be doing well enough this Christmas, we’re sure) turned into a marathon of merriment that I wanted to carry me all the way to January. And the worst part was, I was actually smiling – genuinely physically grinning, and quite broadly, through every frame of these sickeningly cheery slices of mistletoe-infused movie pie.
Don’t get me wrong, come December I’ve always loved a Christmas film. Make way for Macaulay, and yippie-ki-yay Mr Willis (it’s a Christmas film, end of). But not in November! No, something was dreadfully wrong with me, this wouldn’t do at all. I’d become one of them. Incapable of the sensible reservation of seasonal cheer for the actual season, I had now succumbed to the infectious enthusiasm of the Christmas-is-the-day-that-ends-in-’Y’ Brigade, and other such obnoxiously gleeful organisations put on Earth to blight the stony hearts of the contentedly miserable.
But as the feeling took over, I was absolutely loving it. The sandpaper around my soul was dropping away, the frost in my throat was being thawed by the image of on-screen families getting warm by the fire, and my cheeks grew truly rosy at the sight of work buddies and school mates toasting the festivities with a slate full of tall frothy beverages.
Yes indeed folks, the early festive bug had bitten me squarely on the behind, and I couldn’t get enough. Since that fateful hour when my inner Jacob Marley was banished to go and fashion his chain elsewhere, I’ve done something absurdly Christmassy every single day, and am now probably even beginning to annoy the grand ambassador of tinsel and twine that is my other half.
Why this year? Well, I can make an educated guess, but it doesn’t really matter. In the nick of time, even Scrooge learned to keep Christmas “all the year”. All the year may be a bridge slightly too far for me as yet, but a couple of extra weeks of childlike excitement every 12 months? Any doctor in the land worth their salt would prescribe these to everybody if they could. If you’re lucky enough to be accidentally infected, don’t be a Grinch – just grin and go with it.
Merry Christmas ladies and gentlemen. God bless us, every one!