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Why it's time to do Christmas differently this year

PUBLISHED: 06:53 30 November 2017

Christmas tree decorations: Every decoration should hold a memory. Photo: Archant library

Christmas tree decorations: Every decoration should hold a memory. Photo: Archant library

Archant

Advent is almost upon us, so let the build-up to Christmas officially begin, says Rachel Moore. But this year will be a little different.

Tomorrow is December so, if you really can’t wait, the Christmas decorations can come down from the loft.

If your decorations are already up, and the tree’s been twinkling in the corner for weeks, why? Aren’t you bored sick of the sight of it by Christmas, with layers of dust gathering for more than six weeks?

If a fairy godmother permitted me to shape one law, top of the list would be to ban all mention or sight of Christmas until December. And the middle of December at that.

The very sight of a tree lit up in a house window in November sends my blood pressure soaring and me shouting: “What the heck? It’s November” as I drive past.

A home ‘trimmed up’ for Christmas before December feels tacky, premature and disrespectful even.

I love December and all the build-up to Christmas – the traditions, cosiness, cooking and spending time with people.

I love carefully unwrapping every one of our decorations each year, remembering when I bought it, the Christmases past, how Christmas memories plot the growing up of each child; the Lego Christmases, the snooker table Christmas, the Teletubby Christmas.

The obsession to replace decorations and the colour scheme every year upsets and bewilders me. Tree fashions? A well-decorated tree comes from years of collecting. Colour and taste doesn’t come into it.

A family’s Christmas decoration box should be like familiar treasure, unlocked once a year at a magical time, flooding a sitting room with nostalgia and memories when it’s brought out every December.

There should be parts of the whole family in the decoration box,

But the specialness of the season is ruined, for me, by decorations festooned too early.

My Christmas is a two-week sprint. A last minute-type, I need a deadline eyeballing me to even think of completing a task. I’ll never be “ready for Christmas” until midnight on Christmas Eve, and by the skin of my teeth, if at all, usually up to my elbows in sausage meat in the season of ‘101 things to do with sausage meat’ festival.

Tomorrow is the grand opening of the first door on the advent calendar.

This year, the delightfully simple concept has changed, becoming the epitome of all we have done to ruin what Christmas really means.

After clinging on to the simplicity of simplicity of a nativity scene with cardboard doors hiding festive pictures, begrudgingly allowing chocolate calendars behind dumbed-down pictures of reindeer and snowmen, now there are grown-up advent calendars with obscene price tags.

There needs no further evidence that Christmas has become all about the £ sign and passed the point of no return.

The ‘must-have’ wine, beauty and whisky advent calendars show how our obsession with getting stuff has got out of hand - along with another new craze this year, the ‘Christmas Eve box’, a wooden box labelled Twas the Night Before Christmas, and filled with games, food, nightwear and stuff already in the house.

But it’s a thing – and another marketing industry’s dream for the gullible and lovers of accumulation.

I’m at that time of life when I’m trying to get rid of stuff. My boys’ cupboards are evidence that they’ve been given too much useless stuff over the years.

A friend texted me this week to say she wasn’t buying presents this year but making a donation to charity instead.

For the last few years, she had gifted people experiences and time. Rather than wrapping up yet another scented candle – and I love scented candles more than most – she bought trips, theatre and concert tickets, and experiences, to share with her, spending precious time together and making memories.

Far better than any gift set.

We’re all time-poor – or genuinely poor. To gift someone a memory and time rather than something to gather dust is the best gift there can be, like halving what you spend on people and giving the other half to a charity you believe they would support.

With so many people in true dire straights and the increasing polarisation of society, it’s time to do Christmas differently this year.

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