Brendan O'Connor: 'Do they know it's Christmas?'
May we be the first to wish you all a happy Christmas. Well actually, we may not. Brown Thomas beat us to it when it opened its Christmas shop last week. Obviously, there was uproar in certain quarters, what with the kids not being back at school yet, and an All Ireland not played yet (even an early one), and a Rose of Tralee not crowned. And sure then we have the Hallowe'en to get over, and Brexit.
But do you not think BT might be onto something? We need something to keep us going in these troubled times. The summer distracted us for a couple of weeks, but now we're staring down the barrel of no-deal, stock market carnage, China trade wars, German recession, Italy collapsing. Worse again, people have been talking about something called an inverted yield curve.
Apparently the bond markets are predicting a recession, and apparently they're never wrong. And anyway, all the economists are suddenly casually saying we're due a recession now, after seven years of boom.
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Never mind that most of us hadn't even got into the swing of the boom yet, given we were so traumatised by the last one.
It would seem that winter is coming. So what to do? Let's start the run-up to Christmas. Let's ignore all the signs of doom and get into the festive spirit. Let's enjoy ourselves, and if anyone questions it, we can say, "Ah sure feck it. It's Christmas. And it only comes once a year." Once a year for four months in fairness, but still, you don't want to be a Scrooge, do you? So let's force everyone to get into the Christmas spirit now.
Obviously, there will be some technical and logistical difficulties with starting Christmas now. The weather, funnily enough, is playing along. It's as freakish and changeable now as it is in December. But we probably need to have a conversation about the songs. People working in shops will lose their marbles and possibly revolt if we start playing the traditional Christmas songs now, so we'll need a new oeuvre of more sustainable Christmas music that takes a more long-term view, songs with sentiments along the lines of the kids are getting excited, it's only four months to Christmas, Jesus is still in the second trimester, etc etc.
And obviously Santa's operation is geared towards not taking in orders or letters until December and then hiring in seasonal workers who work around the clock for a month to get everything ready. Elves are very highly unionised, but perhaps they could be persuaded to work a four-day week over a longer period, offering them better work-elf balance.
We will figure it out, my friends. We have to, because the alternative - real life - is too awful to contemplate. So happy Christmas, and turn to page 27 for this year's Yuletide gift guide.