It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That’s how the old song went, but it is now ever so true.
In the shopping malls — and retailers are always the first harbingers of the festive season — the Christmas trees are out, there are baubles and garlands decorating the stores, fake snow has been sprayed on windows and there’s a definite Jingle Bell in the air.
The commercial breaks on television are all dominated now by the large store chains marketing their goods, their Christmas offers, laughing Santas, little elves, ugly Dad sweaters and sprinkling of pixie dust. Toy commercials are in full swing too, allowing little tots and those who Santa will visit to make sure that their wish list contains the latest and greatest toys that all their friends will have.
One store is heavily promoting a four-piece toy drum kit. Oh, the thought of Santa delivering that and it being discovered by a toddler at five in the morning, with parents waking up to bang-bang-thump, crash-boom-tink, par-um-poom-poom-boom and screams of delight somehow seems a little too much to bear. Obviously the makers of this drum kit either have no kids of their own to wake up to at five on a Christmas morning, or have a truly sadistic streak and want to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on parents.
Somehow, for mums and dads, the novelty of that toy drum kit would wear off very quickly — a toy to be relegated to a bedroom, basement or garage at the first opportunity.
The commercial breaks on television are all dominated now by the large store chains marketing their goods, their Christmas offers, laughing Santas, little elves, ugly Dad sweaters and sprinkling of pixie dust
I remember my dad telling me that when he was little, Santa left him a piece of wood, a hammer and some old tools.
The high-visibility vested health and safety brigade would be having a fit now if a child were left with such dangerous items, and Santa himself would likely have his trading licence suspended or at least be heavily fined for such an infringement.
Back then, in the early 1930s, times were tough — and so were the kids. Dad always said it was the best Christmas present ever. And it was a gift that kept on giving. Although he wasn’t in the building trades, he could construct or fix anything that needed hammering or sawing, nailing or wiring, painting or plastering — all because of that Christmas gift.
I am a little more cynical about Santa gifts that keep on giving. One year — I must have been eight or so — Santa left a red and white football scarf and bobble hat on my brother’s bed. And on mine there was a blue and white scarf and bobble hat.
That Christmas morning my brother became a fan of Liverpool FC. And because of Santa’s wisdom, I became a fan or the rival team there, in blue and white, Everton FC. I’m sure Santa had his reasons and had the sage knowledge that comes with being the guardian of Christmas, that I could ensure all of the mediocrity and mental frustration that comes with decades of being an Everton supporter.
Looking at Liverpool and their style of football, their winning ways, their wonderful and tragic history, somehow I think my brother got the better present that Christmas morning … but Santa does know best.
I think the cruellest thing I have read regarding this year’s festive season is that Harrod’s, the upscale and world famous department store in London, has now a very special Christmas grotto.
Parents must have spent at least £2,000 (Dh9,500) in the store before their children are allowed visit Santa in his winter wonderland. Sadly, it is fully booked from now through to Christmas Eve.
There’ll be no hammers and nails handed out there. I hope Santa delivers drum kits to every household who indulges in this mockery of the real spirit of Christmas.