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Don’t forget the ‘Happy’ bit in ‘Happy Christmas’

PUBLISHED: 14:20 21 December 2017

Christmas is so much more than making sure this chap has plenty of toys in his sack for delivery.

Christmas is so much more than making sure this chap has plenty of toys in his sack for delivery.

evgenyatamanenko

The first present-shopping foray of the season was made into Norwich on Monday.

Lastminute.com is always how I like my Christmas. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas if my head was in December in October, if you get my drift. There has to be a rush. If there’s a deadline, I’ll work right up to it.

But the real root of the reluctance to set foot into the shops until the final days was brought home within five minutes on the shop floor. Everyone there was so grumpy. Christmas spirit had either yet to arrive or completely left the building.

Where was the fun? It was Grinchville wherever I went.

What a miserable, snippy crotchety lot were elbowing their way around the stores, scowling at anyone with the temerity to venture into their personal space or dally by a display they had to be directly in front of with first dibs for whatever was on it.

Pity the poor shop assistants, full of good cheer and festive greetings, having to put up with the long faces and moaning all day.

Within five minutes, I wished I’d stuck to the shop on-line-only pledge I’ve followed for the last five years, on the sofa with glasses of mulled wine and festive favourites playing.

But the wasteful amount of packaging around home deliveries makes me so fed up I decided to try a year back at shopping the old-fashioned way again.

I slalomed through mothers shouting at their toddlers for whinging – since when was shopping ever a good use of a toddler’s time? – couples bickering and teenagers in school uniform who should have been in class rather than playing hookey in town.

The season that should bring out the best in people also brings out the very worse, the shortest of tempers and selfishness over big-heartedness.

A homeless man sat shivering in a doorway. A man swore at him as he walked past. The man hadn’t uttered a word to passers-by, just sat dirty and wretched under a sleeping bag.

Clearly his very presence offended him – at a time we are supposed to be celebrating the generosity of the offer of a home to the shelterless.

But the true spirit of Christmas isn’t in the gift of human kindness any more – it’s in the material value. Couples squabbled about how much they should spend on people, regardless of what they would like or needed. It was all about the price tag of any old guff.

There’s something so distasteful in a society that swears and abuses the homeless for daring to exist on the street they want to buy useless and pointless stuff, like Pawsecco dog bubbly. How is it even a thing?

But we all strive for perfection at Christmas, whatever that might be.

My favourite TV advert this Christmas is Tesco – however you do Christmas. Christmas is what you make it, how you want to do it, never to be dictated by style magazines or the Joneses next door.

Over the years, I’ve learned to enjoy and not stress. If something is forgotten, it’s forgotten. It really doesn’t matter.

That must-have toy parents lose sleep about getting too often ends up tossed in a corner by December 28.

As long as everyone I love is in one piece, healthy, happy and being nice to each other, we’re warm with food we all enjoy, I will be happy.

When I wrestle my turkey into the oven on Christmas morning for the 20th year on the trot, I won’t moan that it’s always me wearing the apron, I’ll be thanking my luck that I have my special people around me, who won’t really care if it ends up as dry as a bone – it’ll just give us something else to laugh about.

And that’s what we’ve lost – the belief that it’s the people, the laughing and the love that’s the true meaning of Christmas, not the Grinch splashing the cash.

Simplicity isn’t a negative direction to take Christmas.

However you want to do it – but do it with a big smile.

After all, we wish each other a happy Christmas. However you’re planning to do yours, enjoy it and, most importantly, really be happy.

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