I know it’s still only November but where’s your Christmas Spirit? I got asked that five times last week, and I’m no nearer knowing. Though, being a scientist, I have conducted some research, and can tell you it’s not that straightforward. When it comes to Christmas Spirit, it’s all about embracing the whole kit and caboodle. Which some of us clearly don’t. And in myriad damning ways.

For example…

Not having the remotest interest in coffee. Research has shown that ‘not having the remotest interest in coffee’ is a major obstacle to achieving a measurable degree of Christmas Spirit as it renders the sufferer unable to access some of the key olfactory triggers. Happily, you can address this. If your usual response on hearing the term ‘gingerbread latte’, is to run screaming down the high street, now is the moment to man up. Take heart (and a Rennie) and step over the threshold. For extra peace and joy, tell them your name is Holly.

Being Festive Advert Averse. Technology is a wonderful thing, allowing us to streamline our lives in such a way that irritants such as television advertising can be expunged at the push of a remote, leaving us free to enjoy all the other forms of advertising available to us, such as those on the internet, for clothing items we ordered online just seven seconds ago, and Viagra.

But step away from that remote. Feast instead on a diet of unfiltered commercial television, and you’ll soon find yourself at the epicentre of zeitgeisty conversation, on account of having an opinion on the John Lewis advert and an up-to-date knowledge of the whereabouts of the Coca-Cola truck. Feel the glow.

Thinking Black Friday is something to do with the plague. If this is you, fear not. (See also ‘thinking Black Friday is something to do with Margaret Thatcher’, and ‘thinking Black Friday is part of your recycling bin routine’.) Black Friday is actually a post-modern retail phenomenon during which people fight each other in pursuit of food mixers, enormous televisions, and ‘Occasion Wear’, all at ‘knockdown’ prices (which is obviously why they are so-called), so that desperate, impoverished retailers can scrape together enough money to buy very tiny chickens for their starving families to eat on Christmas day. In their hovels.

Mathematical difficulties. There are 365 days in a year, so at any given point in any given (non-leap) year there will be a given number of shopping days before Christmas, that could be equal to but never exceeding 364, and equal to but never less than one. Armed with this important knowledge, you need never again express a negative comment when faced with the question ‘do you know how many shopping days are left until Christmas?’, but instead smile and say ‘where x equals three hundred and sixty four to the power of Greystoke…’ and so on. And so on. Very Zen.

Not being the recipient of any office party invitations. Don’t go out to workwork? Universally unpopular? Simply organise a party of your own. I’m inviting both cats, plus the house spider who lives under the beer fridge. I’ve even upgraded my photocopier for the purpose.

I’ve also purchased four novelty shot glasses and some Advocaat, all the better to facilitate the traditional ‘sexy festive faux pas’ – in my case, most likely an intemperate email to my agent to tell him how much he rocks a Christmas jumper, employing seven emoticons and 362 kisses.

Christmas Catalogue Ennui. Most catalogues already have a built-in frustration-inducing quality, in that, while belonging in the category of ‘recyclable paper products’, they come cleverly wrapped in plastic, so you can’t toss them into the green sack without first de-bagging them. But here’s your chance to turn a negative into a Christmas Spirit positive! Opening your Christmas catalogues opens up a whole world of personalization opportunities. And remember, there’s not a person on the PLANET who doesn’t go into raptures at the sight of a set of six monogrammed hankerchiefs, or a bath sheet thoughtfully inscribed with the timeless epithet ‘Pete’s towel’. Really.

You have an unshakeable and deeply held belief that the fundamental purpose of Christmas, widely held to be a celebration of the Christian religion and/or an opportunity to embrace altruistic notions of family and kinship, is being cynically eroded by shameless commercial adherents of a consumerist economic model which places profit over both personal and societal emotional health.

Ah. Sorry, but I’m afraid you’re on your own.

First published in the Western Mail Magazine 21/11/15

*threw those in for my new (and charming) no 1 ‘fan’. You know who you are…;)

 

 

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