Happy humbug to you all – now where did I leave the corkscrew?

Apparently Sarah Palin has written a book about putting the Christ back into Christmas. She should drop in to my place. He crops up a lot


Okay, I accept there are great swathes of humanity out there who genuinely like this pre-Christmas period; calm, accepting individuals who right now are humming along to the Johnny Mathis Christmas album, sipping their cappuccino eggnogs and nibbling on small but perfectly formed marzipan elves.

It’s no great secret that there are folk in our midst who revel in unknotting the fairy lights and arranging miniature penguins on top of the Christmas cake they iced in October. Cheerful, organised people who read the calendar and aren’t actually totally gobsmacked that it’s Christmas again.

These are generally the same people who iron their duvet covers, never put kitchen roll down the loo and don’t actually, bodily, get into the green bin to jump up and down on beer cans and pizza boxes (it wasn’t me) in a desperate attempt to crush the contents and close the damn lid on wind-crazed mornings.

Nor are these fundamentally rational people ever seen emptying the contents of said bin on to the wet pavement, hoping to find the receipt for the ugly shoes they bought one late-December afternoon after two plastic glasses of warm cava.


air fresheners
The truth is there are those among us who stockpile pine-scented air fresheners, carry change for the parking metre and always know where their tights/teenagers/car keys are. People who, as we speak, are softly chuckling over the novelty gifts they bought at the July sales for the Christmas stockings.

These types often politely decline the party tray of fun-sized burgers and sweaty hot dogs, likewise the top-up of tinny Merlot, favouring instead a wilting asparagus spear and a glass of alpine water.

They are known to flutter their delicate hands over their sinewy little throats and say things like, “Honestly, I couldn’t eat another thing; I’m totally stuffed after that toasted pine nut”.

If you are one of those people, I want you to know that that kind of control unravels, and one day you too will wake up wearing unrecognisable underwear in a wet county west of the Shannon, with hazy memories of chicken’n’chips in a basket.

Just you wait.

Apparently Sarah Palin has written a book about putting the Christ back into Christmas. She should drop in to my place. “Christ, where’s the corkscrew?” “Christ, where’s the turkey?” “Christ, where’s the cat?” “Christ, where’s the cat gone with the turkey?”

If you’re the type to leave the preparations until the Christmas crackers are sold out and the satsumas are as dry as a withered breast, worry not: there are still plenty of shopping hours left until it’s time to clear up the wrapping paper.

Technological gifts
It’s not easy buying gifts for other people, especially technological gifts, which seems to be the direction I’m headed this time around. Christmas shopping is tiring and expensive and complicated, and I’d rather go for a walk or read a book than hang around computer stores wondering when the 12-year-old with the goatee will get around to serving me.

It’s embarrassing not knowing the difference between an iPod and an iPad, discomforting when those very young men with the nose rings and stretched earlobes ask how many gigabytes you want in your tablet. (I thought gigabytes were something you strapped to a pony.)

I’m not really a Christmas person (you don’t say?): like a lot of people, I’d rather follow a goat’s arse up a mountain track in the Andes, or hide out in a dark bar in a dimly-lit faraway city, or lie on a yellow beach, or even go to bed with a bottle of gin, for the duration of the festive season.

But for many of us, some unspoken contract we make with our ageing parents and expectant children tethers us to the mast of domesticity instead. We turn up, boil the sprouts, crawl under the bed to find a set of instructions written in Arabic, and generally make sure everyone has a party hat.

And, who knows, maybe if we didn’t have to slug it out with Santa Claus, we’d miss it. Maybe Machu Picchu is no substitute for pulling the cracker with the nail clippers inside.

Anyway, here’s wishing you a reasonable Christmas. Don’t beat yourself to a pulp if you find yourself asleep in the bath rather than rushing around the house brushing the icing sugar off your polka-dot pinny and juggling cedarwood candles while the wine mulls.

And so what if your kids are sitting on the draining board eating cold bread sauce and listening to parental-advisory hip hop without parental advice, rather than huddling around a roaring grate toasting marshmallows while the cocoa is brewing and the cat is kittening.

’Tis the season to be jolly, all right; we can run, but believe me, we cannot hide.

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