I’m dreaming of an August Christmas . . . well, actually it’s more of a Christmas nightmare. There was I strolling round a local garden centre, perusing the spring bulbs on offer, loading up the bulb fibre and generally in a happy mood when round the corner I stumbled upon a Christmas display.
My mood darkened and, as Victor Meldrew would have said, “I don’t believe it!” The date? August 24. Now over the years we have observed Christmas encroaching on Bonfire Night and even Hallowe’en but, blow me, it’ll soon to be July when tinsel hits town.
Now why am I grumping? We’re still spared so far the jingles which must drive shop assistants to distraction. Surely shopping early is no bad thing as it spreads the cost. Well, partly because it’s plain wrong in my book and that should be enough, but also because it is a real spoiler for young children for whom, and these years are too short, Christmas is magical and for them a week is not a long time in politics (as someone once said), it’s just a long time.
Think back to when you were wee and a visit to the town shops to see the Christmas displays, the lights, the elves and Santa were all part of that build-up to Christmas Eve when you thought you could hear the jingle bells of the sleigh over the roof. That was probably the only night you went willingly to bed early and couldn’t sleep. In our house, we kept checking the stocking at the foot of the bed throughout the night to see if “he had been”. Then the excitement of ripping open the presents (I ripped, my brother infuriatingly lingered over his one at a time) and later tantrums and tears from a mix of excitement and lack of sleep compounded by an early rise. Ah, those were the days.
Publicising and selling Christmas before the leaves are off the trees spoils all that. So I simply won’t take my four-year-old granddaughter into any of these stores to confuse her because there is an order to the seasons and that order has been usurped by some retailers.
Pester power will also kick in early and have to be endured longer. That pester power is power indeed and can lead well-meaning parents and carers to buy beyond their means. Retail now, repent later.
Now, goodness knows it was bad enough when turnips (pumpkins now regrettably) were just past, but before? Too, too much.
So what’s to be done? Well, I recommend, if you feel the same as me, to register your discontent with the store manager – the store manager, don’t burden the assistants as they are victims too. Better still, simply boycott those shelves. As we pass through tills each purchase is registered with depot HQ and space which is not selling goods is space lost to profits. Loss of profits speaks louder than words and if we stick together we will consign premature Christmas shopping to retail history.
I feel a campaign coming on. Let’s call it “Christmas is for Kids” and for kids that means December. Me? I’m sticking to my bulbs for spring, Hallowe’en, guising and fireworks in that order. After all, our childhoods are marked by these distinctive seasonal celebrations and let’s keep it that way. Otherwise the January and February Christmas sales and the early autumn Christmas shopping will one day have collided and where’s the good in that?
Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale