Recession? What recession? Watching telly it's as if the last few years never happened. The soul-sapping seasonal seduction saturation is in full swing, with 'the girls' once more tempting you to buy all manner of stuff you don't need, won't like and will never use. It's said it is better to give than to receive; that's because your own meagre receipts, despite your bravest, it's-what-I've-always-wanted face, may spark a smouldering resentment toward any errant giver. Especially after all the thought and effort you went to to choose their present!
Sodding Christmas grottos are springing up everywhere, with their fake snow, fake elves and fake, suspect-paedophile Santas. They're in garden centres for heaven's sake; muddy cul-de-sacs bedecked with grubby cotton wool and strewn with tacky tinsel. When did Saint Nicholas become the patron saint of gazebos? Where will it all end?
When I were a lad - oh yes, you're getting some of this as well - our dad used to go off up down t'market on Christmas Eve on our only form of transport, a hoop and a stick, to pick up the festive fare. We'd be happy with an apple, an orange and a few nuts in a sock. And then, when he'd beaten us senseless with that we'd use it to stuff the goose; none of this new-fangled turkey rubbish. "It's Christmas. Don't you just fancy some really dry, fibrous meat for a treat?" Then, come Boxing Day we'd tidy up and go back to work.
Christmas! Yuletide! Winterval! What a travesty it's all become. Joyous anticipation foiled by the cancerous disappointment of cold reality. 'Tis the season to be jolly mad at all the misplaced optimism. "Oh yes, what I reckon we need to do to boost the economy is for the whole country to down tools, abandon all reason and have a couple of weeks off. Maybe when we go back (if the gates aren't locked) the world's financial crisis will have solved itself. Egg nog, anybody? Quality Street?"
Have a thought for the wives beaten senseless by drunken layabout 'partners', kids palmed off into the care of PS3 so the same parents can suck resources from the NHS, while abusing the staff at A & E. Then, all together again, the awful fantasy of family harmony as generations of people who never really liked each other cram together in small rooms to complain about the dire television offerings until eventually the fighting starts again. Why do you do it to yourselves? Oh yes, because you are incapable of rational thought. It is Christmas, after all. 'Tis the season of social trauma, waking nightmare, horror and genuine harm for some.
Then the dragging on of the false jollity of lights and decorations, etc, until some horrible, cold-turkey cut-off point some time in mid February, when you emerge, shivering and blinking into the slightly longer days of ice and hard light of the hardest bit of the winter and the realisation that three months of denial was not quite the medicine you hoped it would be. You're broke, you're older and a little bit more hope has slipped away, just as a little bit more interest creeps daily onto your groaning, overloaded credit card. Your New Year resolutions never stood a chance and your festive spending will now weigh you down with each step as you trudge through the snow to gather sticks to heat your hovel.