Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews: The post-Christmas hangover, and the wait for a new dawn

Strange time of year, isn't it?

Christmas is over in the blink of an eye

Christmas is all over bar the shouting, but things aren't quite back to normal either. Some of us are back at work, but many of the people we need to speak to aren't. The Christmas decorations linger around like a hangover, but the fun, frolics and parties now seem an age away.

All that food and drink you excitedly piled into your trolley just a few days ago is now festering in the kitchen. You've had enough pork pies and chipolatas to last a lifetime, and your guests are still declining your offer of a Warninks.

You're just waiting to be told it's ok to get back to normal.

Of course, we all know Christmas is supposed to be a 12-day festival, ending on January 6. Trouble is, the marketing men decided it had to start about mid-October, meaning that by the time Christmas actually comes around, a kind of fatigue has already set in.

This didn't seem so much of a problem as a child. Back then, anything which took you out of school for a couple of weeks was a good thing. And there was always that new train set or Scalextric to play with, the Meltis Newberry Fruits and Terry's Chocolate Orange to scoff, and the Mike Yarwood, Two Ronnies and Larry Grayson Christmas specials to watch on television.

By my early 20s though, it was fair to say that the novelty had well and truly worn off. This was still a time when pretty much everywhere you might want to go over the Christmas period was closed for, er, Christmas. Which meant a week of sitting at home, bored with the repeats of the Mike Yarwood, Two Ronnies and Larry Grayson Christmas specials from 10 years ago. Not so bad, maybe, for the 'proper grown-ups' who had dinner parties to go to, but for us 'Inbetweeners' it was a little dull.

Fortunately, the Christmas shutdown isn't as brutal as it used to be, and there are places you can go to and things to do. On the other hand, today's TV is so bad you dream of the days when you used to be able to sit down to repeats of the Mike Yarwood, Two Ronnies and Larry Grayson Christmas specials from 1977. I spent Tuesday night watching Villa get stuffed by Manchester United at Old Trafford, having thrown away a two-goal lead. If that doesn't give you post Christmas blues, I don't know what will.

The other thing about Christmas today is the amount of pointless junk the shops churn out. The 'seasonal' shelves in the supermarkets are packed to the gunwales with stuff that will be buried at the back of the cupboard by next week. It almost makes you nostalgic for the days of the Ronco potato peeler. Almost.

And when did Christmas jumpers, reindeer antlers and Santa hats become so crucial to the Christmas celebrations? Do people really think that wearing a bit of nylon made in a Chinese sweatshop makes them an interesting and fun person to be around? You would think a generation that is supposedly concerned about the environment, and hard-hit by the cost-of-living crisis, would frown upon such things.

Modern Christmases are a bit like the festive balloons you attach to the ceiling: You spend hours metaphorically blowing them up, dashing about, making sure everything is as good as it possibly can be. And then, within the blink of an eye, it's all over. Leaving you feeling deflated.

Still, at least I won't have to worry about taking my decorations down this Christmas. Because I never put them up in the first place.

It's not a curmudgeonly protest against the festive season, I realise that many of you put a lot of effort into your decorations, and get a lot of pleasure from them. Nor, for that matter, is it a symptom of some deep-rooted depression. It's simply that, in a house with no children, I can't really see the point in spending half a day covering the house in tinsel, and then another half day taking it all down again a couple of weeks later. Life's too short.

Anyway, I wish you all a wonderful new year, however you choose to spend it. And may 2024 be a year of hope and prosperity.