Róisín Ingle: Deck the feckin’ halls. That is an order

In the absence of a vaccine, Christmas is the placebo that can get us to the end of 2020

We’re not all in the same boat, but at least all our boats will be covered in LED lights and several layers of fake snow.  Photograph: iStock

We’re not all in the same boat, but at least all our boats will be covered in LED lights and several layers of fake snow. Photograph: iStock

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As a nation we are grappling with an awful lot. Boredom. Frustration. Apathy. Grief. Exhaustion. Ever-lengthening grey roots. Pasta-related ennui. A strange, possibly stress-related rash that even Sudocrem can’t fix.

Some of us have even been up all night crafting multiple, slightly different-sounding apologies for our collegiate behaviour at a jolly-looking if pandemically transgressive leaving do. But one thing none of us needs to grapple with any longer is the question of whether it’s too soon for Christmas 2020 to begin.

You are quite right in your observation. Absolutely nobody died and appointed me some kind of all-knowing Christmas tsar. I am not the Christmas boss of you.

But, like a cinnamon-scented, overbearing host of Christmas Present, here I am anyway to lead the way on this vexing issue and with luck confirm what you already know in your Covid-weary hearts to be true. We need Christmas to start now, as the ultimate distraction from the current unpleasantness.

In the absence of an actual vaccine, Christmas – a time of light, love, giving and eating too many Chocolate Oranges – is the placebo we need to get us through the next part of this never-ending year.

In my new, admittedly self-appointed role, allow me to definitively answer at least one of the Covid-conundrums that has tortured the nation: the answer is yes.

Yes, you are allowed – nay, verily, you are encouraged – to put up the Christmas tree. And all the decorations. And the lights, yes, even the dodgy ones that give you a headache because they are stuck, for some unknown reason, in that crazed, frenetic disco setting.

I know it’s still only November, but let the news echo across the land: Christmas 2020 is very much on.

I am aware that many of you have gone ahead anyway – excellent work, well done, fair play to you, jingle all the way. But for those still resisting or fretting about whether it’s too soon to get the decorations out of the attic, I am here to help. I’ve checked the regulations (twice, naturally). There’s nothing against it in the Level 5 dictats. Tony Holohan can’t stop you. Or the guards. They couldn’t outlaw tinsel. They can’t ban your baubles.

Covid likes to party, we know that, but Covid doesn’t care about that slightly wonky, dangerously flammable reindeer ornament you bought from a stall on Henry Street 13 years ago. Get it out of the attic and onto your front window sill. Immediately.

On my north-inner-city Dublin street, the Christmas-coming-early memo has been loudly and clearly received and joyfully implemented. Two weeks ago the illuminated candy canes went up outside Mary and Terry’s house, and a week later, when my children delivered some gingerbread people to Barry and Laura across the road, they came back reporting that their hall was not only well and truly decked but was impressively done up like a Santa’s grotto on steroids.

Our own decorations are up, the Christmas tunes are on full blast and we’re waiting for delivery of more fairy lights so we can lift the pandemic gloom in every room – including a place not normally festively festooned: the downstairs toilet. We’ve already watched Home Alone three times and yesterday my mother delivered unto us a jar of her famous mincemeat.

Go early or go home this Covid Christmas is what I say. Authoritatively.

There are other signs. My friend Suzanne usually waits until December for her annual tradition of going for a long walk around the grandest roads of Dublin 6 and 4 to gawk inside the windows at the artfully decorated Christmas trees of the nation’s most wealthy. But she’s going to start her festive perambulations this week, because from our observations even really posh people are going early this year.

I’ve seen lights strung across at least one very salubrious terrace in Ranelagh. Christmas coming early knows no class barriers. We’re not all in the same boat, but at least all our boats will be covered in LED lights and several layers of fake snow.

As Christmas tsar may I also, at this difficult time, take a moment to assure you all that not only can Christmas start earlier than is usual, it can last longer than normal too. To quote one of the sages of our time, Taylor Swift in her song Lover: “We can leave the Christmas lights up till January.” Taylor is being a tad too restrained there I feel. We can leave the Christmas lights up till June. Or at least until a vaccine comes. We can leave them up until next Christmas if we like.

In conclusion, deck the halls, everyone. Deck the feckin’ halls. And, yes, that is an order.