This Christmas is turning into an ever-more worrying event. Not just because the world is obviously and most definitely going to end on the 21st, but also because all my Christmas traditions are being overturned one by one.
As you know, it has long been my policy to put up my Christmas decoration on the first Sunday in Advent. Occasionally, this has drifted to the Monday after, or perhaps even dared to occur on the Saturday before. But the key truth is this: the decoration goes on the TV, where it will remain until the end of the month.
But this year, it is not so! For this year it has been decreed that we shall have a Tree. And on this Tree there shall be Lights (in many and varied colours), there shall be Exciting Baubles, and there shall be a Star! Fortunately, the decoration is permitted to remain, although it too shall adorn the Tree, drifting down from the Star! to less lofty heights.
As you also know, I consider the greetings card industry to be my worst nemesis. (Or nemeses, it's not quite clear - it's a single organisation made up of many heinous forces.) Hence my cunning avoidance of sending cards to inform people who I'm going to see anyway that I do indeed wish them a "Merry Christmas".
But, alas, this too has been decreed to be otherwise. For there is a List. Or, rather, there is an aspiration for there to be a List, yet to be compiled, containing the names and addresses of many exciting people. And lo! all these people shall soon be in receipt of a wonderful and magnificently coloured card declaring the Nativity Hobbit. Or something.
(Yes, that was a truly terrible joke. But if I'm going to have to send Christmas Cards, I'm going to make bad jokes. So there.)
And then there is the matter of the Advent Calendar. Now these truly are a work of terror, for unless you are the only person living in the residence there is the constant fear that little fingers might find their way beyond the doors and remove the chocolate that resides within. Indeed, it's not even a question of if the chocolate will be eaten, but rather a question of when. At any time, a quantum reaction could take place leading to the consumption of that delicious chocolatey goodness. Yes, they're Schrödinger's candy.
Here too, I have been overruled. What's worse, I discovered yesterday that the chosen Advent Calendars actually count upwards to that most wonderful of climaxes, the 24th (something not quite right there), at which point you get to gorge yourself on... a Fun Size Mars Bar!!! Yes, it's true - the highlight to which this calendar is pointing is the most disappointing and ill-named of all Mars Bars.
There's a social comment in there somewhere, but I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader.
In truth, I protest too much. When LC moved in, I of course acknowledged that there would be changes. And, indeed, I welcome them. Mostly. Even then that means that I have to spend Christmas being... jolly. Ho, etc.
I'm still drawing the line at cushions, though.
#49: "Hartsend", by Janice Brown