Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iiiiiiiit's Chriiiiiiiiiist-maaaaaaaas!

Well, no, it isn't, there are still more than two weeks to go. But as far as various commercial establishments are concerned, Christmas it is, and we can all have a slice.

My Christmas has several components. First off the mark is usually the Shops, who have been selling tinsel and greetings cards for a good couple of months but now have the Christmas CD permanently looping. Last week I overheard workers in several shops asking each other if it really was necessary to listen to all twelve of the days of Christmas, and if maybe they could alternate each loop of the Christmas CD with a different album. This week they all seem to be just gritting their teeth and trying to ignore it, although I suppose a few may have been signed off work with stress and are hiding under the blankets at home hallucinating partridges in pear trees.

I wish I felt more brazen about using and abusing my "disabled" status as I am, under the terms of the infamous Disability Discrimination Act, perfectly within my rights to ask a store to turn their music down or off for a short time to enable me to shop there without acquiring a massive headache. Asda, for instance, are happy to turn their in-store radio station off for a while if a disabled person who is affected by noise wishes to shop there, as long as they get a bit of prior warning. However I have not had the balls to do this yet. A shame, as I think there are a number of shop-workers I know who would be eternally grateful for a half-hour break from the Christmas CD. I could make quite a profit if I put my mind to it.

Next up is the Lights. These went up early last month in the town centre, for Diwali. Now there's a "Happy Diwali" banner at one end and a "Happy Christmas" banner at the other end, two celebrations for the price of one! My personal preference would be to have a banner for each winter festival - Diwali, Christmas, Hannukkah, Winter Solstice, New Year, Thanksgiving, you name it, we wouldn't have to stop celebrating until the sun came back.

I quite like the lights, as long as they fit in. Thing is that what is acceptable for a large high-street department store's main window display of Christmas lights, looks a little bit silly for a tiny corner shop.

This year, I think the lights on houses are sometimes even more garish than the ones on shops though, and that takes quite some doing! I have nothing against people who position their lit Christmas tree in front of the open curtains of their window. I have no problem with people winding a cord of lights around a tree in their front garden, or across the top of their porch, or putting a glowing snowman either side of their front step (although it's not something I'd go for).

No, the trouble is when you're about to round a bend in the road and there's such a proliferation of flashing multicoloured lights glowing ahead that you wonder if it's a major road accident or perhaps aliens landing... and then you get round the corner and see that it's a private individual's home Christmas decorations. Or worse, a set of three or four homeowners who are locked in a permanent game of one-up-man-ship, and are now having to stack the plastic reindeers as there's no longer enough room in the garden for them to be set out in single file.

And the inflatable Santas. Oh Dear Lord, the inflatable Santas.

Then there's Christmas shopping. At this point I should be honest, I'm not a Christian and I do not celebrate the birth of Christ. I do not go to Midnight Mass, I do not put up a Nativity scene, I haven't sung Away In A Manger since school. But I do celebrate Christmas.

My reasoning behind that is that festivals evolve over the years. "Christmas" has hundreds of connotations and associations to assorted religions and traditions and folklore going back various lengths of time. Some bits have been accentuated, some have been exploited, some have been almost entirely forgotten. But the midwinter festival, in one form or another, perseveres.

So I celebrate Christmas as a time, in the cold dark damp ICK of winter, when you make an extra effort to see friends and family, you exchange gifts, you cook and eat good food, you make a burst of light and warmth and plenty in the barren, dismal winter world around you.

This is not always as easy as it seems. I am stuck for ideas of what to get several people (including Steve, ideas welcome), and I have wandered round shops and browsed on the internet until my head spins and I'm still STUCK. And on the other side of the coin, my mother is still desperately trying to extract clues from Steve and me about what she could get us. We don't know. We have everything we need. All I tend to want from my mother is a nice cup of tea and a chat, and I get that on a near-enough daily basis. Aargh, what to do, what to do...

On an entirely different note, I have been informed that in my last update I forgot to mention George the Coconut. I am pleased to be able to relay to George's concerned fans that he is still happily sitting on a nest of bubble-wrap in Steve's front room. However he no longer sloshes when moved.


Anonymous said...

get Steve a laydeee coconut.
go on, please?

George :P

Anonymous said...

I often give Cromagnon cookbooks, with a scrap of self-interest I'd admit.

Mary said...

A self-interest present might be a good idea... although I'm not sure about cookbooks. I'm still trying to introduce Steve to cooking things using a "medium heat" rather than the "BURN like the Underbelly of Hell!" setting.

Perhaps I could arrange a visit here for the two of us as "his" present.

Anonymous said...

Great post Mary :-). Was going to write more about my going eco-zealot/anti-capitalist non-present -receiving this year, but time/energy beat me.

Has Steve got a favourite food or drink, especially something he doesn't get to buy himself a lot? That way it's still a treat but not "stuff"

KB said...

I think it was Dr Phil Kitten who once said "I don't go to church but I do go to shops so I'm perfectly happy with the commercialisation of Christmas"

Words to live by

Mary said...

Vic, this is the problem - Steve has way more money than I do and so everything he wants, he's already bought himself of his own accord. A huge-capacity super-spangly iPod. A shiny feature-filled digital SLR camera. You name it. It's his money, he can do what he likes with it, it's not like he's getting in debt or anything, but it does make him a bugger to buy for! There's nothing that he doesn't get to buy himself, until you get into the realm of cars and houses and so on, which given I'm on benefits is just a smidgen beyond my means :(

KB, I don't recall hearing that before, but it makes a certain sense!