It’s beginning to look a lot like…No! It’s no good I can’t bring myself to write the last word. Bah Humbug!
Just a fortnight ago on these pages I was writing about my love of warm sunny days in early autumn and grabbing the chance to spend a day at the beach in late September and early October.
But as I cling desperately to the dying days of summer, it seems the supermarkets and many of their customers have already cut straight to ..... No! I still can’t bring myself to write the “C” word.
It’s that time of the year when someone, somewhere flicks a switch and decides to plunge all of us headlong into the festive season.
It’s starts as soon as the August Bank Holiday is out of the way. I was in a well-known discount store at the start of September looking for some garden chairs.
Ours are falling apart, and because I like a bargain, I thought the end of summer would be a good time to see if garden furniture was being sold off at a lower price.
What little summer stock they had on display was shoved to a different aisle and where just a few days earlier there had been barbeque sets, picnic blankets and parasols, there are now rows of Twiglets, Quality Street and tinsel!
It was twenty-five degrees and brilliantly sunny outside, but in this parallel universe inside the store it was already twinkling with snow covered fairy lights and baubles.
I know this happens every year now and I know that it prompts the same old debate. There are those who can’t wait to get started on the mince pies and festive films and then there are those like me who are totally baffled by the rush.
There are aspects of the very early start to seasonal shopping that I understand, especially in the current climate when most of us need to budget very carefully. Assuming that the sell-by date goes beyond December 25, it makes sense to gradually start buying a few festive goodies as and when finances allow.
I am pretty sure it’s what my mum did when we were children. I can remember brief glimpses of a sweet tin or a bottle of sherry several weeks before December, but they would magically disappear again until the big day.
I later discovered they were always hidden under the stairs! The temptation to raid the stash was enormous, but the fear of the consequences of doing so was even greater.
So, I can see some logic to putting out a few things in the shops well ahead of time. But it’s the fact that some stores go straight to the maximum in September that I find depressing.
On top of that some radio stations have already launched their special festive channels playing non-stop seasonal songs. Some television channels have started showing snow-covered, sparkling films about the “Holidays”.
Now that is where I draw the line. It’s one thing to gradually build up supplies of special treats in plenty of time, but to be singing along to Bing Crosby, Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard all wanting to “let it snow” on a hot sunny September day is just wrong!
On social media I have already seen posts from people declaring they are in the festive spirit. One mum showed a picture of her child’s bedroom. He had changed his duvet cover to one covered in pictures of Santa and Rudolph because he couldn’t wait.
Other people have shared pictures of boxes of mince pies that have been brought into their place of work and quickly devoured.
It won’t be long before famous people take to social media to start sharing images of their houses fully decorated - usually by a company they have hired to do it – a massive tree up and fully lit at the start of October.
I know there are a few families who need to celebrate this early. Over the years I have reported on service personnel who had to leave for a tour of duty that took them away from October until well into the following year.
It meant the world to them and to their children to have festive celebrations before leaving.
Yes, I know my ranting about the increasingly early start to the festive season makes me sound like Scrooge. But believe me I really do like celebrating it, I just like it to be at least December!
It’s a truly magical time of the year. The traditions, the gifts, the food, the drink, spending time with family and friends, I love it all.
But for me it’s special because it is short. It brings brightness and cheer at the darkest time of the year.
The anticipation is as much a part of the magic as the actual event itself.
That excitement begins to wane by December 25 if the festivities started a quarter of the year earlier.
So, despite the growing pressure from the supermarkets and from the festive radio stations and TV channels, I will be doing my best to put all thoughts of Santa to the back of my mind for as long as possible.
I will let you into a secret though. I have treated myself to a bottle of whisky that was on offer. It’s now hidden under the stairs until December. I will try to resist the temptation to open it until then.
In the meantime may I wish you a very merry October!
Bye for now.