Unless you’ve been living at the North Pole for the past month, you may have noted the passing of a supposedly joyous period of festivities. Long ago, I awaited the arrival of Christmas with unrivalled anticipation. These days, I feel only disappointment and stomach cramps (the latter admittedly due to overeating). As a nation collectively loses its mind, I suspect I am not alone in secretly harbouring an admiration for one Ebeneezer Scrooge.
The first group of individuals that seems to succumb to Xmas-itis and kick off the miserable affair are radio DJs. An informal consensus seems to exist that from December the first, through to Christmas day itself, a ‘fun and festive’ Xmas playlist must be endlessly looped on every station. This consists of about 10 songs, most of which were released over 20 years ago by artists that have since retired or given up in order to single-handedly end world poverty.
Then there are the Christmas shoppers. Hordes of them. Religiously purchasing the same tired combinations of chocolates, cards and cardigans. We find ourselves forcing our way through the dead-eyed masses, preparing to do battle for the last Boots bath-spa kit as if it were a potion for eternal life. As sacrifices of student loans and pay-checks are laid down at the altars of St. Waterstones and St. Thorntons, it’s not surprising the whole occasion feels about as genuine as a Nick Clegg promise. When the day itself rolls round, we are jaded and tired. Our parents have the audacity to wake us before 11am so the whole family can swap disappointing, unwanted gifts and pretend to be pleased.
The rest of the day is a similarly predictable and macabre affair. Around midday, various elderly relatives begin beguile us with the same Christmas anecdotes they have been using for the past 15 years and subsequently make their opinions on Britain’s immigration policy known. We then convene round a crowded table to stuff ourselves on a grotesque scale whilst pretending we are surprised at how God-awful the jokes and gifts are in crackers that we have sourced this year. During all this we begin to feel resentment towards a younger, more enthusiastic generation. One that has yet to experience let-down Christmas TV specials or gruelling Boxing Day hangovers. A few years ago, that was us. Bouncing off the walls at 6am on Christmas morning, energetic and excited. They can’t get enough of it all. The disenfranchised amongst us are left to wonder; do they know it’s Christmastime at all?