First off, I know I should have written ‘Christmahanakwanza‘ rather than ‘Christmas’ but we’re not at that stage of enlightenment in the UK, and so it’s Christmas lights and Santa Clauses that sit alongside the bikinis and sunscreen on Oxford Street in London. And have been doing so since August 3 when Selfridges’ flagship store opened its Christmas shop.
Every year about now I truly appreciate living in America, and this year it was when buying another gas canister for the BBQ. This in itself is another reason to thank our stars and stripes we live here as we’ve never been able to grill so much outside that we needed a second canister in one summer. Cue the Irish joke – what’s the best cover for your BBQ? A garage.
The lights weren’t working that day in the covered car park but in a display window in one corner was my first sighting of orange Hallowe’en lanterns. This made me so happy. Why? Because they weren’t Christmas lights.
Which is what my kids immediately thought of when we passed the Morningstar office downtown this weekend and caught sight of this piece of art in their lobby.
The connection for us is automatic. Because we’d already seen Christmas decorations, chocolates and cards in our local supermarket back in Norn Iron this summer. And when I go back next week, I know I’ll see mince pies, Christmas puddings and Christmas fruit cakes.
The last two I can perhaps understand as they ‘mature’ with age. But ye olde mince pies will definitely be olde by December 25 if you buy them now. To be fair, I have bought ‘fresh’ ones on December 20 and the pastry still tasted like cardboard.
And it’s not just the shops. The media are just as bad – Time Out London has already published its guide to the jolliest activities and events for Christmas 2015 – in June. Time Out Chicago only did its guide last year in the middle of November. I listen to a magic radio that teleports me back to Norn Iron, reminding me how to say ‘now’ properly and where to buy the best soda bread – and already I’ve heard sleigh bells, a few ‘Ho Ho Ho’s and the dreaded ‘C’ word.
Who has time here to think about Christmas when there is so much to be done for Hallowe’en? I love browsing in the pop-up shops that spookily appear overnight, and where some of the ladies’ costumes would best be described as ‘pop-out’. I thought ‘Adults’ Section’ just meant scarier outfits – I didn’t realise the ‘wee’ part of Hallowe’en was taken so seriously.
And then it’s November and the day to give thanks. From window dressing to table dressing, from butchers’ knives to carving knives, from blackened crows to blackened turkeys (hopefully not). And more decorations. And only then it’s Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa.
And all this time, those poor folks in the UK have been looking at the same old reindeers and elves and ‘ye-getting-older-by-the-week’ mince pies. So you can forgive them if by December 25, they don’t get overly excited about Christmas crackers and brandy butter and eggnog. Now eggnog made with Cadbury’s Easter eggs, that would be different. But you have to wait until January 2 until you can buy those!
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