Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Greetings of the Seasons

As reported reliably in this column, now that Christmas is actually visible on the horizon as opposed to being a target in the retail industries calendar, in the words of the old song “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” as far as I’m concerned.

So to all of you who have been muttering “Scrooge” behind my back, I say, “Bah” and even “Humbug.”

For I am filled with the spirit of peace and goodwill, if not to all men, at any rate to a far larger percentage than is my wont.

Our house is “en fête,” the tree, albeit plastic, is resplendent and Christmas music pipes in the background. This year we are, unfortunately, missing that solemn anthem, full of pathos and feeling, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” but most of the other favourites are in place. In the kitchen, the turkey can’t wait to be told to get stuffed, the chestnuts, if not roasting on an open fire, are resting peacefully in the can, just waiting for the opener and the cranberries are eager to be sauced.

Even Jack Frost showed up to provide a suitable meteorological touch by nipping at the odd nose or two and, as a special gift to both of my readers, I’m giving you the holiday off from reading this stuff. What more could anyone wish for?

As I am now classified as an adult by the authorities, I do know roughly what presents I have stacked beneath the tree but I’m still hoping Santa will spring a surprise or two. We do enforce a strict policy of “not to be opened before Christmas day” with the threat of an ASBO to anyone who fails to comply.

I’m a little concerned for Santa Claus in his visits to the UK this year as, with their crusade against obesity taking precedence over deporting illegal aliens and dealing with crime, I’m afraid he may be in for having his stomach stapled personally by Miss Hewitt. Imagine an anorexic Father Christmas! And then Elf’nSafety are on his case about diving down those chimneys with a licence from the Department for the Granting of Chimney Diving Licences, plus in London there’s the congestion charge to pay for all those reindeer.

However, these minor incidents aside, I’m going to have a good time.

I noticed that the television stations were winding themselves into a frenzy to provide entertainment for Christmas Day. As most of the population spend 364 days of the year watching, I would have thought that they might have welcomed a day off to celebrate. After all, Christmas is the time when families gather together around the festive board and realise just how much they get on each other’s nerves and how glad they are that everyone lives in a different part of the country. Watching television dilutes the social impact of this, as it stultifies any acrimonious conversation. Many do, of course, flee the country and spend a good deal of the holiday in airport lounges. I suppose they find it more enjoyable.

Family units are smaller than in days of yore. In many this year, the youngsters will be out on Christmas Day stealing iPods, mugging old age pensioners, selling drugs and practising similar laughable japes on the citizens, watched over by an avuncular police force. “Now, now, then. If you kick her in the head once more, I shall have to issue you with a warning.”

Of course, if the magistrate likes the person’s music or the culprit is a TV or sports personality, all will be forgiven. I think this is what Dickens was predicting when he wrote of the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Unfortunately, all those rattling chains don’t seem to be being attached to the right members of society.

But in our house we are having an old fashioned, traditional Christmas as usual and I hope you all do too. It’s time to re-read “A Christmas Carol.”

As Tiny Tim said, “God Bless Us, Every One.”

(Sigh – I suppose here I have to explain that by Tiny Tim I am not referring to the banjo-playing alleged entertainer but to the character created by Charles Dickens.)

Merry Christmas!


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