Christmas traditions; we all have them. In Holland they all black up and throw coins at prostitutes. The Austrians run through the streets in devil masks, unnecessarily hitting people with sticks. In Venezuela, everyone rollerblades to Early Morning Mass, whilst exclaiming “Jesus is born” (incidentally, my favourite tradition ever).
In my family, come Christmas afternoon, we mark this most holy of occasions by the playing, and subsequent throwing, of board games. What always starts out as a tender familial bonding moment over a game of Operation never fails to turn into a scene from a particularly wrought episode of Father Ted, only with fewer priests and more Whiskey. Ever been bludgeoned with the egg-timer from Articulate? Or been hit in the eye with a Pictionary pencil (admittedly that time it was me doing the throwing)? The Uno incident of Christmas 2006 still remains a taboo topic at such gatherings. Yes, family-inflicted pain, gluttonous suffering, and in the case of the Dutch, mildly inexcusable racism, is what Christmas is all about.
Yet maybe thanks to TV brainwashing finally convincing us Christmas is nothing more than Stacy Soloman force-feeding you Iceland’s finest festive chocolate donut deep fried prawn turkey gammon platter, our tradition-induced euphoria has been taking something of a skewed turn. Take a recent incident at the York St Nicholas Grotto, where, after being made to wait for those valuable moments on Santa’s lap, tempers seemingly turned sour.
“One man verbally threatened the lady who is dressed as a Christmas tree” recounted the grotto organiser (I quote verbatim). ” Another of the elves was so upset that she has resigned. It was a complete nightmare.”
What kind of human being verbally abuses an elf? The social questions raised by the incident, quite apart from why parents are continually willing to place their children on the laps of old, bearded men, are boundless.
And the absurdity of the whole festive fandango doesn’t end there. The Daily Mail hasn’t stopped waxing lyrical about a distraught 6 year old who a supermarket Santa arbitrarily dismissed to his ‘naughty list’ (I would argue an occupational hazard of visiting a grotto in Morrisons). To make matters worse, this year’s “Christmas chart hijack” is attempting to pit Nirvana, arguably the least festive band ever, against the perma-tanned TOWIE collective and the annual X-Factor armada. Can you imagine what Kurt Cobain would say if he could see ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ become Christmas number one? He’d probably commit suicide all over again.
I’m not religious. Not even close. My house once got struck by lightning on Easter Sunday, which should tell you all you need to know about my pious inclinations. But when people start going Clarkson on Santa’s little helpers to the tunes of 90s grunge rock, you can’t help but feel the spirit of the season needs a saccharine boost. So thank the Lord, we have Katie Price’s seasonal new novel ‘Santa Baby’. Snobbish sarcasm aside, Jordon’s tale of Angel, baby Honey and newly discovered half sister Tiffany (the promotional video is a must-see, mainly for her original, and sparse, interpretation on the traditional Santa outfit) is a reminder of the glorious abandonment of good taste that has become the global Christmas tradition. Christmas spirit is essentially the product of our repressed penchant for Mariah Carey, Noel Edmonds and all things inflatable being allowed to roam free for this one sacred month. And damn is it fun.
I’m not quite suggesting do as the Japanese do and have your traditional Christmas meal in KFC, but use this window of tackiness to be bold in your festive decisions. Dig out your complete works of Cliff Richard. Read erotic fiction on the train. Don those PVC dungarees with pride; it’s Christmas tradition after all. But for god’s sake, please stop punching elves.