Monday, 27 November 2017


Someone asked me recently if Brexit was a “brand”. Too right I said. Wouldn’t you buy “Brexit Brain Drain Unblocker”or “Brexit Bleach” - formidable, strong killers of all liberal germs (germs have feelings too as that horrible commercial for Domestos suggests)? “Exit” itself became a verb when HR decided the idea of ‘exiting’ staff rather than firing them seemed less messy because ‘exiting’ is like keyhole-dismissal as opposed to open-heart dismissal.

But while we’re at it let’s ‘exit’ Christmas…. let’s stop the festival that creates more bankrupts than anything else.  Here are the arguments for stopping the event. It celebrates the birth of Christ - yet only 50% of the UK claims to be Christian, a quarter of those don’t believe in the resurrection and only 800,000 go to church on the average Sunday. Christmas now starts in October and runs through to the New Year punctuated by Halloween, Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It’s a long, it’s expensive and to many people it’s a meaningless event - it’s like celebrating your birthday on the wrong day (like Lewis Carroll’s brilliant idea of ‘un-birthdays’.)

Christmas is a frenzy of iffy commercials, inebriation, office parties, family-fret-togethers and tawdry lighting. I recently watched one of the many Christmas films (I wasn’t feeling very well at the time) called “Santa Who?” Imagine eating a large box of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in one sitting…there’s only so much feel-good anyone can take.  More people get stressed, ill or suicidal over the long bleak Christmas holiday to be greeted in January by the tax man and as like as not another reorganisation at work. Let’s “cancel Christmas” as Alan Rickman immortally spat in ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’.

But, actually, let’s not do that. Let’s instead kill the Grinch in us.

Let’s embrace the corny. The smell of tangerines, Armagnac, mince pies, fir trees; the taste of turkey (whoever said it’s tasteless is eating the wrong kind of bird), stuffing, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, chocolate ginger, brandy cream; the hygge feel of that log fire; the sound of some of the best music ever composed - just listen to the Sussex Carol, Noel Nouvelet, Bethlehem Down and the sight of Christmas decorations, a general anticipation of happiness and 7.5 million or more going to church around Christmas. Very few things bring us together like this.

Read the American Nathaniel Hawthorne, the real inventor of Christmas as we know it. His book “The Old Christmas” romanticises the idea of “peer and peasant in harmony”, of log fires, food, fun and games. The wintry bleakness, he argues, induces us to look within to find our true, kind social selves.
In a world of fake news, fake politicians and fake emotions we’re being conditioned to stop believing in anything.

And that’s a pity.

It’s time to believe again, in goodness, in kindness and in the story of generosity of spirit - the story of Santa Claus. Because Christmas is the best party ever concocted.

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