Forget the excess this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 08:46 19 November 2017

'Tis the season to have golden Christmas trees...

'Tis the season to have golden Christmas trees...

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OPINION: Columnist Steven Downes is shunning the overpriced Christmas gimmicks and having himself a simple festive period - anyone else with him?

“I remember having a Roland Rat advent calendar in the 1980s.

It was a pretty outrageous deviation from the advent norm back then. But it was still just a flat one, with your standard doors and pictures – albeit of Kevin the Gerbil as a shepherd and Roland as one of the three kings (of Orient are).

They missed a trick, judging by what is happening today. They could’ve had doors containing gifts including a test tube of Weill’s disease, some rodent droppings and a rat’s tail (perfect for that era, when it was a hairstyle of choice).

It sounds outlandish, but don’t rule it out. For advent calendars are off the scale.

Among the examples in the shops are calendars containing beard oil (Santa probably has one), pork scratchings, the various components of a radio-controlled car, lipstick and gin.

Whose Christmas is complete without them? I will hardly be able to sleep throughout December as I wait to open the daily door to snaffle the scratchings.

Some of these calendars can cost over £100, which used to be a sensible overall budget for Christmas.

When exactly did the countdown to Christmas become so un-Christmassy – and so darned complicated?

I’ve made my feelings clear before about the garish, undignified and downright cheap-looking lights displays that people put together on their houses. This time, I’m going inside.

Alongside the awful advent calendars, there are the trees.

It used to be all about real trees. Then the plastics arrived, saving a little bit of post-festive vacuuming of needles.

I’m ok with a plastic tree, but now the tree has to rotate, talk and have fibre-optic light shows.

Some of the trees are white, red, blue...

What is wrong with a green tree? Christmas trees are green. It’s a colour that works for them and should work for us.

Now we come to the decorations. The following is a tiny selection of the stuff that can be bought:

A light-up grazing reindeer with a moving head; gingerbread tree decorations (ensuring you have to buy replacements each year); a seagull wearing a Christmas hat; faux fur Christmas stockings at £50 a piece; a strawberry jam jar tree bauble for £18; and a bauble decorated with the various elements of an American breakfast (£22).

It’s ridiculous and such a waste of money.

You, of course, may be engaged in a quest to spend as much money as possible and make your house look as idiotic as you can, but I’m staying in tune with myself – simple.

My advent calendar will cost about £2.99, sporting either a Victorian sleigh scene or Bethlehem by night. The opened doors will reveal fairly basic pictures of a star, an angel, a donkey, a shepherd and... well, you get my drift.

I’ll have a green (sorry, plastic) tree with a bit of straggly tinsel and some baubles – not forgetting a string of white lights with the odd one on the blink.

There might be a Christmas candle and a wreath, but that’ll do nicely.

So have yourself a very simple Christmas.”

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