CHRISTMAS has never really been my thing. Festive foreboding usually kicks in around the end of October when shop displays segue from Halloween tat to their Christmas equivalent. Things have felt worse this year, probably due to the obsession with “saving” Christmas.

Worryingly, I find myself shouting at the TV, “Who cares if Christmas is cancelled – just get this virus sorted”. The risky five-day Christmas truce is designed to absolve us should covid claim granny around the middle of January, or grandad catch pneumonia, having sat next to an open window for five hours. We can console ourselves by thinking, “Ah well, thanks to Nicola/Boris, Gran at least enjoyed her turkey and trifle and being ignored by the grandchildren.”

It hasn’t always been like this. Admittedly Santa’s beard is a bit whiter since I was a boy and Christmas Day was just another day. My father worked in a factory and didn’t have a Christmas Day at home until retiring at the age of 67. Back then, presents and decorations were simpler and, because money was scarce, probably meant more.

My treasured Scottish Football Books for seasons 1957 to 1960 lie on my desk as I type. Although nominally the season of goodwill, erection and decoration of the Marr Christmas tree invariably led to a parental fall out. Frostiness could linger well into the new year. My mother’s role was purely advisory and, in fairness, she was no great loss to the corps diplomatique.

A deviation of a couple of degrees from the vertical would be met with the cry, “It’s bloody squint.” The ceremony of the tree also involved ritual bloodletting as my father habitually cut himself removing excess branches. The living room instantly transformed into an out-take from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

My father had a blind spot as far as fairy lights were concerned. Failing to learn from years of bitter experience, he persisted with placing the lights on the tree before testing them. Every year brought a fresh disappointment. The house lights were dimmed, plug inserted, switch flicked and yep, nothing. In those pre – LED days, stygian gloom engulfed tree and household until the single malfunctioning bulb was located and replaced, usually around Boxing Day.

Back then, Christmas was one day only, but that was more than enough. In contrast, the obsessing with “saving” this year’s Christmas has already gone on for weeks. We need cheering up, I hear you say. Possibly, but remember those who won’t feel like celebrating. Let’s not throw away the sacrifices of the past nine months and, come to think of it, the Christmases of my childhood weren’t so bad after all.