Schools go back: tick. Hallowe’en: tick. Bonfire: tick. And then, wham, it’s straight onto the figgy-pudding-holly-tinsel-O-little-town rollercoaster. Still, the annual ‘I can’t believe they’ve got their decorations up already it’s not yet bloody December’ conversation is a welcome change to discussing how enjoyable/ruined Bonfire is without rookies.
If only we had Thanksgiving, to prevent Christmas from getting off the starting blocks too early. Mind you, Thanksgiving sounds like a nightmare-ish prequel to Chrismas, what with having to eat turkey, watch terrible telly, and hang out with your family, but with no presents to take the edge off.
Why Christmas creeps up on me unawares every year is a mystery - it’s not like there aren’t any announcements – but on the other hand, it does keep it fresh. If I didn’t have my traditional mid-November crisis, triggered by a full-body recoil from the display of mince pies at the entrance to Waitrose, I would hardly feel festive at all. In Cheese Please the other day, the lady told me that many customers have already ordered their Christmas hampers, and put in their Yuletide Stilton orders. Who are these people, and how can I become them?
I’m not a leave-it-till-Christmas-Eve type, but neither am I brushing my hands together in an ‘all done’ gesture in July. I seem constitutionally unable to get it together till the start of December, by which time the combined forces of telly, shops and other people make me panic. Out of that panic has come a kind of system, which I will share for those of you who haven’t yet sorted your cheese orders.
1. Never throw any scraps of paper away on which you have made lists. (For one thing, the Getty Institute will buy them when you’re famous.)
2. (Relates to 1): Find last year’s list of the people you sent Christmas cards to.
3. Cross off anyone who has died recently. Now you have your Christmas card list.
4. Buy cards and wrap in the Cards for Good Causes shop.
5. Go to late night shopping with Grange Girl. Write down everything she buys from the list she made in July. Drink free mulled wine while you wait for her to pay.
6. The day after late night shopping, go round the shops – they’ll be a lot quieter now – and buy everything Grange Girl bought. You can work out who gets what at a later date. Get three of everything, because you know more people than she does. (Grangey claims to know just five people.)
7. Ask the lady in Cheese Please what the most popular Christmas order is. Copy it.
8. Go into Harveys or Symposium and order as much booze as you can afford.
9. Use some of the items in 8 to get you through one solid evening of binge-wrapping.
10. All done. You’re welcome. If you want to buy me a thank you present, I’m fond of cheese.
Beth Miller. Published in VivaLewes.com