I was recently commissioned to write a piece detailing how to survive planning a Christmas party. This sent a cold shudder through me, just like the time I forgot to wear knickers on a frosty morning, only unlike that time, a nice pair of apple-catchers wouldn’t stop the chill. What set my spine tingling was the fact that in mid-October, I was being asked to write about the lead up to Christmas in a wholly positive way that actively encouraged people to start getting “into the festive mood” early. Well, here, in a bid to restore cosmic equilibrium, is my guide to surviving the premature run up to Christmas, or Prematuremas.
I probably should have started writing this back in August, when the majority of shops were clearing their seasonal goods aisles of BBQ charcoal and replacing it with Quality Street, but I guess I’ve been in denial about the approach of Prematuremas. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the month of Christmas (or December, as it was formerly known) but I try to refrain from relishing in a warm festive (mulled wine induced) glow until the 1st of said month, so here’s my handy guide to avoiding Prematuremas.
Shops are to be avoided at all costs. No sooner have you got back from your summer hols when, *poof* all the supermarket shelves are stocked to the rafters with shiny novelties and boxes of mince pies with a use-by-date that would seem to imply they will outlast the cockroaches in the event of a world leader’s meltdown.
You may be tempted to venture into a shop for vital supplies, but know this. Between September and Christmas, the shops think nothing of playing Prematuremas music and you will leave the store with half a dozen eggs, 3 pints of milk and a partridge in a pear tree stuck in your head for 3 months solid. You have been warned.
Apparently the only time of year anyone buys a sofa is during Prematuremas. The rest of the year we cope perfectly well without feeling the need to upgrade our lounge furniture, and have been making do perfectly well with our existing seating arrangements, but according to the purveyors of such cushiony beasts, our Christmas will be ruined by the one we have now and they have just the irritating finance plan based advert to forewarn us of this fact, every 15 minutes from the beginning of October.
Avoid sofas at all costs. Ignore them, pretend that thing taking up a third of your living room is a deformed piano, leave your visitors standing or perched on the mantelpiece, but whatever you do, don’t acknowledge the symbol of true Prematuremas – the sofa.
It’s not just the festive sofa adverts that dominate Prematuremas, almost all adverts take a turn for the tinsel. What once was a seemingly ordinary, generic product of no fixed season is now a must have Christmas item. According to the Prematuremas adverts, nothing says “Christmas” like a tube of Pringles or an electric screwdriver. I’m pretty sure that we ate crisps-in-a-tube all year round but according to the television, these things will, of course, make you feel as festive as snow-covered reindeer droppings.
You may think you can handle a few toy adverts and misguided power tool promos, but for the love of all that is Autumnal, avoid your television or you risk coming face to face with the one thing on earth guaranteed to kick your pre-Christmas spirit into warp drive – the “Holidays are coming” Coke advert. One glimpse of that red and white truck convoy and you may as well kiss goodbye to your sanity (underneath the Prematuremas mistletoe).
To be fair, Facebook is probably best shunned all year round, but during Prematuremas it should be avoided for one reason in particular; the smug status update. There is always one “friend” who joyfully updates their status on the 28th September with “Phew! Finished all the Xmas shopping. LOL”. LOL indeed [insert heavy dose of scalding hot sarcasm here].
This person probably did their homework on the first day of the school holidays, will also be the first person to have filled out all their tax returns and will always be the first to leave a party. Probably because they’ve been kicked out for making everyone feel so bad for actually having a life instead of spending all year Christmas shopping and filling out tax forms.
To the younger members of the family, Prematuremas means getting out the Argos catalogue and circling every item within its pages that their tiny brain desires, delicately planted there by the pneumatic drill that is advertising. Not only will they have defaced every page of the catalogue, including the lingerie and eternity ring sections by October, they will spend every day for months ensuring that anyone who crosses their path is fully aware of exactly which “It” toy will prevent them from being cast out of polite tweenage society.
Meanwhile, your older relatives will force you to face your fear of Santa in September, when they begin their regular inquisition into what gifts you want this year. I can honestly say that having spent all year avoiding wanting things at the behest of my bank manager, this is going to be three months of confused rocking, hiding behind the s… well, we don’t talk about that.
For some reason, work colleagues run out of things to talk about around September. They’ve asked all the questions they care to ask about rained-out picnics, summer holidays and children’s returns to school, so what next? Sadly for us, it’s Christmas. This means that every time you enter into the obligatory chit chat necessary to use the coffee machine, you will be asked by no fewer than 3 people what your plans are for Christmas and if you’ll be going “home” this year? Home? I go there every night, thanks, it’s where I live!
If you manage to survive the Prematuremas water cooler chatter, regularly giving you a countdown to Christmas from day 100, you have one more office colleague to contend with. She foolishly went into a supermarket and came out with a hideous aural infection; she caught Christmas Carols and will be humming them every day from now until February. One tip – it’s pretty hard for them to hum Jingle Bells while coughing up teeth.
So there it is. In order to survive from now until the 1st of Christmas without suffering Prematuremas, you simply have to avoid all shops, household furniture, entertainment, social media, friends, family, colleagues… how hard can it be?