Marian Keyes: Hate is not a strong enough word for how I feel about Christmas

Our correspondent is having a sudden wild enthusiasm for a L’Occitane advent calendar

I wouldn’t say I hate Christmas. Hate doesn’t feel like a strong enough word. I dread it, despise it, detest it, disapprove of it – and I’ve entirely desisted with it. Genuinely. I do nothing. No cards, no tree, no presents, no turkey. None of it. Nothing.

Except for … well, advent calendars. Advent calendars I can get behind. I love the idea of a small surprise every single day. Last year the lovely women at Waxperts sent me a chocolate calendar. Although it was still about six weeks before the start date, I opened one and ate the chocolate cube. Immediately – because I have an “I’ve started so I’ll finish” compulsion once any sugar enters my body – I ate the entire month. (Observers have described the scene as a “frenzy”.) The following day a calendar arrived from Divine Chocolate, and I’m afeerd we had a repeat performance on our hands.

My self-hatred exploded and I contemplated getting a sign made for my front door: “No pro-life leaflets or advent calendars, tanken yew.”

But then I discovered the L’Occitane advent calendar and I’m IN LOVE! It’s an illustration of a village in Provence (where L’Occitane originated) with carol singers and adorable nippers and attractive but not intimidating French ladies carrying armloads of enticingly beribboned boxes. The whole business is giving me that special, pit-of-the-stomach, childhood-Christmas thrill.


Behind each of the 24 doors is a gorgeous L’Occitane product – there’s Cherry Blossom shower gel, Verveine body lotion, and shampoo and conditioner, both made with essential oils. There’s eau de toilette from Arles, Pivoine Flora hand cream, fragrant soaps, a vegetable oil lip balm and an excellent face cream made with shea butter and much more.

Also! They’re very decent sizes. I can tell you this with certitude because I’ve already opened all 24 of the little doors. Yeah, deferred gratification has never been part of my skill set.

But at least I haven’t eaten this advent calendar and that surely counts as progress. Right? Right!