There’s a Christmas episode of The Good Life in which Margot ends up utterly distraught. The problem? Fortnum and Mason’s have not ‘delivered’ Christmas. In those days when only milk and post were delivered, this was a comic statement in itself (no-one had yet dreamed of talking about ‘delivering’ policies or programmes.) The problem was, Fortnum’s had already delivered the lorry-load of assorted goodies but she’d sent it all back. Why? Because the tree was nine inches shorter than advertised. When they refused to deliver on Christmas day, Margot and Jerry were forced to cancel their elegant party plans and pop next door for a home reared turkey, hats made of newspaper and crackers where you had to shout Bang! yourself. It was the best Christmas ever.
So when people start panicking about Christmas not being delivered I can’t help wondering: do we really need all the chocolates, advent calendars, extra mince pies, chip and dips and the million other things indispensable to a modern Christmas? So long as we have the basics we’ll be all right, won’t we?
At the risk of sounding like an old fart, when I was a kid we made paper chains by the yard, brought out the same tree decorations year after year and played parlour games in the evening. And only the cards were delivered.