The Irish approach is one of little patience. We take the 'lazy mans load' option and bring the Christmas decorations down out of the attic when we're bringing down the jack-o-lanterns and the old sheets to make ghost costumes. It saves us of making the second trip, n'est pas. Indeed in some parts of our fair Isle Christmas is ushered in so early that last year I had the misfortune of being subjected to 'Fairytale of New York' in the week leading up to Halloween. I kid you not.
Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. It is without doubt my favourite time of the year, and God help me, I need it. Its the one thing I look forward to each year more than anything. Even at 23, I still see some magic in it. That's why this type of carry on upsets me. I fear that through the annual overkill, eventually I'll grow to hate Christmas.
As I began, this year I've been away for the all of october and November but I can guess that little has changed in 12 months and Christmas is still being forced down the throats of the Irish people. In New Zealand things are a little different.
The Kiwis have a relaxed atmosphere to Christmas. Like Ireland decorations have been up since the start of November, however only in certain shops and I have yet to see any street decorations. Unlike Ireland, television is not a river of Christmas adverts. I have yet to see Santa Claus, polar bears, Coca Cola trucks etc. During a commercial break. Today, as I walked past a bar, I was startled to hear John Lennon's 'War is over' and then I realised that it was the first time I'd accidentally heard a Christmas song during this year. Yes, I have made it to within 4 weeks of Christmas without hearing a Christmas song (save one exception set out in the next paragraph). I must say this has been very refreshing.
However, I regret to say that there are problems with the build up over here and it has something to do with the weather. New Zealanders are just about to begin their summer and the weather is improving and the nights are getting long. Last weekend I caught U2 in Auckland. On Sunday there was a Santa Claus parade for the kids in the city. The place was packed and the parade was something like a St. Patricks day parade. As much as I enjoyed it, the whole event seemed odd given the glorious sunshine it took place in. Similarly, two weeks ago I was in Sydney and I can tell you that a man standing next to a Christmas tree in 28 degree heat wearing a t-shirt, shorts, flip flops and sun glasses, just looks wrong.
Perhaps this is why I haven't heard Christmas songs until now, or seen too many decorations. Dean Martin singing about how bad the weather is and, just like Bing, wishing for snow, would sound a little silly given the surroundings and climate. Ditto for Santa Claus and his big red coat and sleigh. For me, the run up to Christmas needs cold, dark (preferably dry) evenings illuminated by fairy lights to create the right atmosphere.
I will be back in Ireland two weeks before Christmas and I will therefore have the luxury of the best of both worlds; a proper build up to Christmas that starts in December and not October.
However, what am I to do next year?