Aunt Ethel, upside down in the wheelie bin

OKAY — it’s December 1, so I can now talk about Christmas.

I wasn’t game to before because Christmas in November tastes as wrong as mince pies in July.

I’m one of those people who shake their heads and suck in air through their teeth when the first shop decorations appear shortly after halloween.

I should be grateful. They serve as a warning shot across my bows. But it doesn’t make any difference; I’m never ready for Christmas and I don’t care.

Every year Christmas Eve arrives and I’m spinning like a kid’s top with my arm — symbolically at least — stuck up the turkey’s bum. But that doesn’t matter. It’s part of the whole glittering, plastic, extravagant, Technicolor… fun… of the whole thing and I love it.

This is where someone will say it’s too commercial, the TV ads con kids into placing too much pressure on their parents, we’ve lost the real meaning of the whole thing, what about the starving in India and where’s the religious message?

Oh come on! Loosen up. Have fun. Live a little.

Love a little, too, naturally.

I have this neighbour whose dog hates my dog, who sounds his horn when he drives away (at any time of day or night), who plays his music too loud and belches loudly in public.

And on Christmas Day I’m going to love him.

I may even start feeling fondly about him on Christmas Eve.

Sheer exuberance over the whole festive season could extend this warm fuzzy feeling until Boxing Day.

I’m going to spend too much money and place myself in hock until November next year. But at 6am on Christmas Day, when the family thunders down the stairs in a torrent of breathless anticipation, the area under the Christmas tree is going to look like someone gift wrapped New York and left it there.

By breakfast someone’s present will have been trodden on, by lunchtime Aunt Ethel will be upside down in the wheelie bin looking for the necklace that got thrown out with the wrapping paper, and by supper the dog will have been sick. I’ll try to make it up to the starving in India in some inadequate way; and feeling warmly about my neighbour (whose lips move when he’s thinking) is exactly what the good Lord had in mind.

I was nagging my parents witless about Christmas presents long before there was television, so I don’t see that as the destruction of Christmas As We Know It.

And the real meaning of Christmas (which kidnapped a pagan celebration of the solstice long before Christ turned up) is: hey, we made it through another year — let’s have a party!

I can’t wait.