Argos. Tesco. Glade. HMV. These are the companies who have screened their Christmas advertisements in the last half hour on the tele' while I've been watching. While I was just typing that last sentence, an ad came on for the DVD of Disney's A Christmas Carol. This afternoon we ventured into Belfast City Centre to pick up a few bits and pieces and most of the shops were piping out the Christmas songs for their customers to "enjoy" whilst perusing such wonders as reindeer head hats and snowman toilet seat covers (I kid you not, check out your local Poundland). Harry Corry had a Christmas tree in their window. And best of all? There was a man dressed as Santa standing outside Castle Court Shopping Centre. Speaking of which, whilst tracking down that last link I found out that you can visit the real Santa (yes, the real one) in Castle Court from next weekend.
One question: does the world not realise that it's only the start of November?!
I realise I sound a bit "bah humbug" but nothing could be further from the truth. I adore Christmas. I love Christmas music, Christmas movies, buying Christmas presents, spending time with family at Christmas... the whole shebang! However in recent years my excitement has always faded somewhat by the time we finally get to the big day itself due to over-exposure of all the festivities for the months running up to it. It was at the stage by Christmas day last year where, if I had heard Fairytale of New York one more time, I would have screeched long and loud (although admittedly the song in question has never been one of my favourites anyway - shameful for an Irishwoman, I know).
I think I just want my Christmastime to be quality time. Perhaps a month before the big day would be plenty to really enjoy the festive season rather than get sick of it, but unfortunately the commercial world gives us no choice these days. I may only be nipping in to Asda for some milk but yet I'm confronted with tinsel and, no doubt soon, if not already, Christmas hits over the PA system. It may be the season to be jolly, but can one really sustain jolliness for two whole months?
That said there are of course benefits to the shops forcing Christmas upon us so early. The super-organised among us need the time to plan and prepare - how can we know what our Christmas gifts will be and how much they'll cost if they aren't yet being sold by the shops? Some people I know even have most (if not all!) of their Christmas presents bought and wrapped already - yikes! I unfortunately am in the situation of living pay cheque to pay cheque and so haven't been able to afford to buy any pressies yet - even buying a couple of cards in the pound shop today was a bit of a stretch - but I have already started perusing many's a website to see what I will be buying people when I do get paid again. I have even set up a spreadsheet (I do love a good spreadsheet) to record my gift ideas and how much they'll cost compared to my budget for each person. I suppose if the shops hadn't started selling all their Christmas wares by now I would have a lot less to choose from.
So with two Christmas cards now purchased, my spreadsheet partially completed and the Yorkshireman having purchased the aforementioned reindeer hat (yes, I know, I know...) I suppose it's time to officially give in to Christmas and just accept that, from now until 2011, every time I go into a shop I risk being submitted to pan pipe carols and advent calendars. Personally I will not be transferring my 300+ Christmas songs (see I told you I liked Christmas!) over to my MP3 player until sometime after 25th November and the tree will not be going up until early December, but should you already be humming Jingle Bells and preparing your Christmas lights, then I give you leave to enjoy the festive season and will not utter so much as a single "humbug" in your direction. I will also be working on that spreadsheet...