Advent calendars, old Christmas and baby sharks.
PUBLISHED: 11:13 24 December 2018
Every year there are new Christmas ideas to embrace. Who would have thought 24 days of gin could be a pre-cursor to be big day?
By the time you read this, you may have consumed 24 individual chocolates or 24 gin samples.
I like a traditional Advent calendar, ideally one that tells the Christmas story, ending with the Nativity scene. You get angels, a donkey, a star, shepherds, wise men and so forth, culminating in baby Jesus in a manger.
The ones that have rosy-cheeked children, toys and Father Christmas are also sweet. This year, however, we bought our calendar rather later than usual and have faintly surprised to find our little doors opening on to gnomes, assorted rodents and a garden pest.
The elf on day one was nice but then we began to get gnomes engaged in various activities, including a group of three old gnome guys who look as if they’re on their way home from the pub, and another smoking a pipe (health and safety).
The snail was a surprise. As was the rat and her ratlets and the lizard. To be fair, Christmas Eve was a Nativity scene with no rodents.
But even this could not surpass a friend’s Unicef Advent Calendar which highlights different projects the United Nation’s international organisation for children has undertaken. Day one focused on de-worming.
“My wife is thinking of getting another calendar,” he said.
I note there was also a Greggs Advent calendar and one with cheese − delicious countdowns to Christmas but not really about Christmas.
While I am a bit of a traditionalist (old fogey), I don’t want to return to the 1960s − I can’t imagine how we got on without celeriac purée − but there are certain things I miss. Christmas crackers made with crepe paper; new Morecambe and Wise Christmas Specials, Leslie Crowther on TV taking presents to children in hospital, my nana spending three hours preparing the sprouts (wartime made her part of the nation’s admirable “waste-not, want not generation”); the James Bond film on Boxing Day; Carol singers coming to the door.
The last time we had a carol singer it was one boy, aged about 11 years (c.2004), who sung the short hand version of “We wish you a merry Christmas:
“Wish you huh merry Christmas,
Wish you huh merry Christmas (sigh),
Wish you huh merry Christmas, annahap pea new year.”
When I asked him for another one, he looked at me with a despairing expression before launching into:
Way inner manger, crib forra bed...”
At which point I took pity on the enterprising youth and gave him £1 for effort.
Lametta was the way to a sophisticated Yuletide. Every year, my husband asks if we can have lametta on the tree and this year, I relented and said he could. We had reckoned without our daughter, however, who was appalled. But I predict lametta will be making a big comeback... maybe even in my lifetime.
• At Christmas we always listen to Handel’s Messiah while driving along East Anglia’s major roads, although we tend to skip the miserable bits and any solos voices we don’t much like. But click4reg.co.uk, which sells personalised number plates, has carried out research to show that 45 per cent of chart music goes above the “safe” rate of beats per minute (BPM) for driving. Music with a higher BPM can increase your heartbeat, they tell us.
Safe songs include Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, and Shape of You. Riskier numbers, due to their fast pace, include Dusk Till Dawn by ZAYN and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You.
And just think, all these years I have been skipping some of Handel’s slow bits in favour of For Unto Us a Child is Born and the Hallelujah Chorus. But perhaps the really dangerous CD I have in the car (bought this week) is Pinkfong’s Baby Shark Album.
For those of you who have not encountered the Pinkfong phenomenon − lucky things − it is a plinky-plonky number beloved of small children who easily latch on to the tune and the lyrics (Baby shark, doo-doo-doo-do-d’doo (repeat x 2), baby shark). Then comes mummy shark, daddy shark, grandma shark etc. I have been living with this tune as an ear-worm for the last month. While the grandsons don’t seem to mind and actively encourage me, it has an unfortunate side-effect in that it can be tacked on to almost any upbeat song you can think of:
’m gettin’ married in the morning. Ding-dong the bells are gonna chime
Baby shark, doo-doo-doo-do-d’doo
Or: “God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
Baby shark, doo-doo-doo-do-d’doo.”
Or: “And here it is, merry Christmas, ev’rybody’s having fun
“Baby shark, doo-doo-doo-do-d’doo.”