‘Tis the (pre)season

Brussels sprouts WikipediaI can’t put it off any longer. It’s December and it’s time to declare the Christmas preseason open. Sigh.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all bah humbug here. I do love Christmas, particularly since our kids came along. And, hey, I’ll be off work for two weeks – that’s never a bad thing.

But Christmas is also an intensely expensive, tiring and stressful time of year, isn’t it?

There’s the never-ending battle to find the last available space in the car park. The disappointment of realising that you’ve left it too late – again! – to buy this year’s must-have toy. Spending hours queuing in Tesco with two trolleys full of food that you would never eat at any other time of year: mince pies, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, dates, unidentifiable bite-size things in puff pastry or breadcrumbs. Trying to work out where to store it all. Taking out a second mortgage to pay for everything.

Some of these are an inevitable consequence of the festive season but admittedly I don’t always help myself. As usual, I’ve bought half my presents already – the joy of internet shopping! – but you can be sure that come the week before Christmas I’ll be opening my wallet and emergency spending everywhere to plug those final few gaps.

Even if you’re living in a cave, it’s impossible to hide from the onset of Christmas, but there are some sure signs that December has arrived.

Every other advert on TV is Christmas-themed. Virtually all of them are rubbish, and even the ones that are quite good everyone’s sick of already by the start of the month.

It’s also that time of year when at least 50% of the music TV channels are playing top 10/20/40 Christmas song selections at any given time. For one month only, Slade, Wizzard, Boney M, Shakin’ Stevens and Jona Lewie can rack up the royalties. Whadaya mean, you don’t know Jona Lewie? Of course you do. All together now …

Indeed, in the world according to me, the official start of the Christmas preseason is my first sighting of the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York, which never fails to put a smile on my face. That box was ticked yesterday morning.

The thing is, no matter how much I grouse and grumble about the stresses and inconveniences of Christmas, I can’t help but love it anyway.

Usborne Christmas Decorations

How can I not? Isaac and Toby have spent the last couple of days constructing home-made Christmas decorations. And with Heather and Kara away, the three of us will be spending today putting up two Christmas trees – a new one which we’ve just bought for our living room and our old one which will take pride of place in the kids’ playroom and which they can decorate to their hearts’ content.

So that just leaves a ship container’s worth of food to buy, presents to wrap, stockings and exterior lights to hang and, oh, about a million other things. Hmm. Maybe it’s just as well Christmas preseason starts so early …