Rachel Cocker: 'My favourite of all Christmas traditions is a bit of grinching'
There's something in the mounting complaints about this year's Celebrations chocolate advent calendar that is secretly warming my cockles. "What kind of monster puts a Bounty behind the first door?" outraged customers are exclaiming on Twitter. "Christmas is cancelled," others declare. That's the spirit. Grinching is the one festive tradition with which I can truly get on board.
To my mind, a coconutty treat that speaks of tropical climes would be welcome relief from the festive oppression that began before Halloween. But then, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a good grumble.
My mum, raised in a rectory, raised us in turn on tales of not getting a tree before Christmas Eve. When I WhatsApp'd the family group to say I was writing this piece about how bloated modern celebrations have become, she replied in a flash: "I'd ban the whole hypocritical, money-making exercise. Lots of love, Mother Humbug."
I don't hate Christmas. I'd be ambivalent - enjoy it, even - if it only lasted for the 12-day window. It's the eye-rolls from the festive fun police, for not enjoying the tedious two-month creep of it, that bring out my inner Scrooge.
While I love twinkly lights, copious amounts of Champagne and my entire family dearly, throw the whole mix together under one roof with the crushing weight of expectations, then crank up the central heating, and it's a Christmas miracle if there hasn't been a row about sprouts before breakfast. (My brother and sister-in-law took over the cooking last year, their first as new parents, and were nearly ready to divorce by dessert.)
I'm not an Eeyore by nature: nothing gladdens my soul like the first rays of summer, but all you have to do to enjoy them is open the curtains. Even I would tire of my favourite season if every shop/bar/restaurant was adorned with Hawaiian leis for eight weeks, while 'Club Tropicana' played on repeat.
So, the only way to soothe my mounting irritation at the tacky winter takeover is to scratch the tinsel-induced itch furiously. A colleague and I now have our own little ritual: "Just ignore it," she cries, jigging around to Shakin' Stevens in her Rudolph jumper, while I roll out my well-rehearsed arguments about just wanting to be able to leave my front door without being immediately subjected to a festive visual and aural assault.
In truth, I think she loves to hate my antipathy as much as I do her enthusiasm: the call of the Grinch, much like the robin, is a sign the season has started in earnest.
I'd go as far as to say everyone needs a seasonal curmudgeon in their life. Getting cross about Christmas is what gets us refuseniks through winter - and reminds the rest of you why you love it, even more. (© Daily Telegraph, London)