Halfway through October I got my first Christmas-related email. Planning for the children’s Nativity which is held on Christmas Eve at our church has begun. Costumes are to be made for Mary, Joseph, and the Angel Gabriel. There is a discussion over how many rehearsals are needed. One camp thinks there should be three rehearsals so that the production is better. The children involved and the congregation will get more out of it. The other camp points out that the more rehearsals you have the fewer children will participate, defeating the purpose. In the best Church of England tradition the email exchange is restrained, but I get the impression that behind the scenes emotions are running high.
If this were the only intrusion of Christmas into October I would be delighted. But it is not. I don’t know how it is near you, but since late October I have walked into shops to find them fully festooned with Christmas decorations. One on the high street has two enormous fluffy reindeer pulling a sleigh in its window. The reindeer are mechanised and they’re going to go up and down, round and round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for more than two months. The garden centre is literally crammed in Christmas trees, lights and decorations, floor to ceiling. If you try to move you send a small plastic snowman crashing to the floor. I’m afraid M&S is the worst offender. As you walk in there are Christmas trees and twinkly lights. But it is the food section that is the most depressing. There are piles of mince pies on display. Yes – mince pies . . . I don’t know if people are meant to eat them solidly for two months of the year? Or whether they are for tucking away for Christmas Day. A fresh mince pie, anyone?
I’m not sure if there is anything we conservatives can do about this. We believe in freedom. We know that our high street shops are swamped with taxes and business rates and they have to make ends meet. But is this activity really going to pull in the customers? I know that it puts me right off and I’ll now try to keep out of these stores till December.
Here is Thomas Hood’s poem November from the early 1800s. This is how it should be:
No sun—no moon!
No morn—no noon—
No sky—no earthly view—
No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no ‘t’other side the way’—
No end to any Row—
No indications where the Crescents go—
No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
No courtesies for showing ’em—
No knowing ’em!
No travelling at all—no locomotion,
No inkling of the way—no notion—
‘No go’—by land or ocean—
No mail—no post—
No news from any foreign coast—
No park—no ring—no afternoon gentility—
No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,