By the time I was 25 I had many problems with Christmas. I wasn’t religious and I wasn’t a materialist either – and it seemed that the anthems to this annual ritual of superstition meets greed were either some thoroughly nauseating carols I had hated since my school days and a truly terrible song by Wizard. I recall doing my Christmas shopping in Oxford hemmed by bustling and angry people competing to get to the stores. Everywhere I went I was haunted by the childish words of “I wish it could be Christmas every day...” I couldn’t think of anything worse! Years later the apparent satire of this dreadful track would be explained to me, but I still loathed it along with Slade, Paul McCartney and all the other naff Christmas tracks that were vomited out of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Many years later and I arrived at a truce with Christmas (and my family). Many of the songs have got worse - if that was possible – plus there is now an annoyingly ironic embracing of Christmas tinsel-decorated tackiness as if it were all so wonderfully kitch and the greed had increased, although thankfully now we have the internet to cut out the Christmas shopping nonsense. Something had to be done and, as Man Eats Biscuit once famously sung, "It's Cliched to be Cynical at Christmas". What I ended up doing was to take the parts of Christmas or Winter Solstice or Newton’s Birthday that I did begrudgingly enjoy and excluded the rest as much as possible. It's quite hard to do this, as every year shops seem to try to extend Christmas build-up to an early slot. I recall seeing Christmas promotions up in August in Amsterdam. My fruitless wish is for a return to the 12 Days of Christmas concept, which now only exists as a confusing song to successive generations. Germanic traditions openly embrace Christmas, but they seem to do it with a traditional class. The whole idea is ritualised and primal, anyway. It probably stemsfrom people in the western hemisphere needing to create a festival at the darkest time of year to cheer everyone up and hopefully bring back the sun god, so if you are going to celebrate why not have fun with the traditions. Having a Krampus Day sounds pretty cool, as does putting up the Pagan Christmas tree on 24th December. I can't convince my lot to do that, but the Christmas decorations do not surface until 1st December. November is not part of Christmas, it has its own tradition albeit one that was cut from Halloween in Jacobean times. Anyway, among the relatively small list of small doses of personal merriment I indulge, I actually was able to find 10 songs that I found had an enjoyable connection to Christmas.