It’s only November and already the shelves are full of cloying hypocrisy
When I was a boy, we all used to look forward to the traditional lecture on the commercialisation of Christmas.
In those pre-internet days, children would solemnly leaf through the family Argos catalogue and compile a handwritten list of the items we required to express our devotion to the living Christ: a Raleigh Chopper; Now That’s What I Call Music! 2 on double cassette; Deely Boppers; the new Minder annual; an octagonal Rubik’s Cube; luminous green towelling socks; a giant Toblerone.
The list would be presented to our mothers, whose role included bargaining with the Patriarchy to edit it within the household budget. Legend tells that this is how the Raleigh Chipper was born.
As the gifts were unwrapped, it would fall to an elder of the family to recount the Christmases of old. Stockings, they would explain, had not been the garish, purpose-bought items of today. They had been ordinary socks, often with holes in them brought about by walking to school in all weathers.
Gesturing at the mounting pile of decadent playthings, to which, paradoxically, they had been the most enthusiastic financial contributor, the elder would draw a stark comparison with their own childhood treats: a satsuma, nuts and a lump of coal.
Only after the family had murmured its agreement that Christmas had lost its meaning could the Cadbury’s selection box be distributed, with the elder offered first choice.
Tell that to kids today and they’d recreate it as an immersive Cottagecore experience for £79.95 a ticket.
I’m turning in my grave.
What does survive from those sepia-tinted days is the unanimous conviction that Christmas starts earlier every year. This, of course, is a tradition in itself. It doesn’t do to be prematurely enthusiastic about the Yuletide festivities.
The correct etiquette is to start from curmudgeonly reluctance and allow the ‘magic’ to infuse slowly until you reach sufficient spiritual ecstasy and are moved to photocopy your arse at the office drinks party.
Marks & Spencer, which took over stewardship of the festival from the church at the turn of the millennium, has traditionally sought to position it in the inclusive cultural space occupied by Sir David Attenborough PLC and Walkers crisps.
This year, however, something has gone terribly wrong.
For the Neo-Fascist grifting community, early November is a very special time. The lads and lasses at GB News, Talk TV, and The Telegraph come together to honour the fallen by criticising the clothing choices of politicians at the Cenotaph.
According to their creed, it is inappropriate to begin condemning institutions for disrespecting Christmas until after the leader of the Labour Party has been poppy-shamed.
So, what the hell was the Archbishop of Marks & Sparks thinking bringing out a heretical Christmas advert before we’ve even encouraged our children to burn the effigy of a seditious Roman Catholic?
This so-called advert mocks the Spirit of Christmas (© Cliff Richard 1988) by suggesting that some of us secretly don’t enjoy forced communal activities and harbour bourgeois tendencies towards individual gratification.
It is clearly the work of The Woke, who fail to understand that Christmas is a time for temporarily pretending to care about the plight of others in the God-ordained hierarchy of a market economy.
If Christmas begins too soon, it is impossible for ordinary, hardworking people to maintain performative empathy past Boxing Day and through The Week When Time Dissolves into the January sales.
So, let us once again give thanks to Suella Braverman: keeper of the national mores. In a stiff rebuke to those who might be tempted to prematurely suspend their legitimate concerns about immigration, the Home Secretary reminded us that only through suffering can we find redemption.
Next week, after the politicising of national mourning, homeless itinerants seeking temporary shelter will be all the rage.
For now, though, hear how the government planned to cull the elderly, watch the Holy Land burn, and keep the doors to your inn firmly locked.
Flags & Bones pulls together Ben Wildsmith’s sparkling and disruptive Nation.Cymru columns on politics, culture and sport and is available to pre-order from Cambria Books.
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