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Debate: Simply having a wonderful....err, hang on

Has Christmas had its day? Yes, abolish it, says Larry Neild. No, it's still got magic, says Michael McIlvenna. What do you think?

Published on December 24th 2008.

Debate: Simply having a wonderful....err, hang on

Larry Neild is bah! humbug
SO this is Christmas! It’s all humbug and should be called Christ’s mess, seeing as it was his birth that got us into this not-so-merry go-round.

If I stand at the next general election, which could well be this spring, it would be on a one-issue ticket.... proposing the Abolition of Christmas General Purposes Bill.

I don’t care much for Christmas...because it brings out the extremities of life, when yin and yang and dangerously at their furthest points. It takes happiness to the limit, but at the opposite end, sadness to its darkest point

I reckon 50% of the population – ie the men – would be with me all the way.Christmas is a time when we spend money we haven’t got (especially now) buying things the recipients don’t need.

If Santa bugged a selection of the homes he visits you can imagine the conversations.“Is that it, yer miserable, mean git, and it’s the wrong size. You were thinking of that tart in the ale house when yer bought size zero, weren't yer? Well give it to her.”

And the kids will have detailed not their gentle wish lists for Santa, but a demand note, and no excuses.

If Charles Dickens was around now to rewrite A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas Future would be Mr Visa, demanding payment with a high interest rate.

I discovered Christmas was not all it’s cracked up to be when I was a believer in Santa. How come, I pondered as a six year old, when FC visited the home of poor kids he left crap presents and when he went to the homes of rich kids he left armfuls of brilliant gifts? Answer that one, Mother Neild, as if she could. I wasn’t stupid, even then.

In any event I have never seen His birth certificate to prove he was born on December 25. Who in the right mind would drag the entire population of the country to census points in the middle of winter?

I don’t care much for Christmas, or the way it is now, because it brings out the extremities of life, when yin and yang and dangerously at their furthest points. It takes happiness to the limit, but at the opposite end, sadness to its darkest point. We can best cope with life when he hover in the neutral zone.

Christmas in December is a conspiracy to drag us from our hibernation when we would normally shelter from the cold, dismal winter weather. The shops would be empty in December if it were not for Yuletide. And what about the cost to our economy? It’s become a signal to jack in work from the eve of Christmas Eve well into January at a time when the country needs our labours.

Just to show I do have a kind streak, in my Act of Parliament, I will offer a compromise.We can celebrate the birth of Jesus on the nearest Sunday to, say, July 25. That way those who want to head off to church to sing Happy Birthday can do so while the rest can enjoy a quiet Sunday watching the telly.

Just think of the contribution we’d make to global warming by a July Christmas. None of that waste of valuable electricity, feeding those ridiculous fairy lights telling neighbours what a wonderful time is being had by all. It’s bad enough suffering Blackpool Illuminations without every other house providing its own version of the lights.

I look forward to your support and vote in the forthcoming election, and remember, a vote for me will avoid you having to stand for hours in the refund queue on December 27. Snappy Christmas.

Michael McIlvenna is in the spirit
IT'S easy to be cynical about Christmas. Well, very easy, actually. But why don't we all put aside that oh-so-British ability to see the worst in everything, just for a moment, and let in a little of the festive spirit. In fact, make mine a large gin while we accentuate the positive.

For many it's the time of year we celebrate the birth of the man who will save us all from damnation; no, not Barack Obama. And even if you don't believe Jesus is the son of God, he had a philosophy that we would all do well to live by and, on that basis alone, I will be raising my glass to him at the Christmas table.

Bah!, I hear you cry, the real meaning of Christmas has long been obliterated in the unstoppable tsunami of commercialism. Yeh, yeh, but hasn't everything been ruined by commercialism? And hasn't profit and greed made everything worse – working conditions, the economy, television, public transport, the contents of Christmas crackers . . . So shall we all throw ourselves under the nearest bus – if you can find one that hasn't stopped running because it doesn't make enough money?

I love Christmas for the little things. Like the card that arrived just the other day from a long lost pal who had taken the time, at this busiest of times, to pen a couple of lines letting me know that he still valued my friendship and was glad to know me even if our paths hardly ever cross any more.

Or shall we do what we do in every other aspect of our lives and make the most of it? Smell the coffee and warm the mince pies. Settle back and watch It's A Wonderful Life with that 20-year-old-tawny port you bought for a special occasion. There, aren't you starting to feel better already?

I love Christmas for the little things. Like the card that arrived just the other day from a long lost pal who had taken the time, at this busiest of times, to pen a couple of lines letting me know that he still valued my friendship and was glad to know me even if our paths hardly ever cross anymore.

Like the sound of a church choir singing Silent Night, the simple beauty of which can simultaneously move me to tears, fill me with the warm glow of nostalgia and instantly recreate that indefinable feeling I used to get waking up on Christmas Day 30 years ago.

And what about all the little (and big) acts of charity? Most of which go unreported, like those who make Christmas dinner for a neighbour who might otherwise miss out, or the scores of volunteers who give up their day altogether to help out in homeless shelters across the country.

Yes, you can choose to point out the excesses and the rows, but what about the works' Christmas party where two colleagues who spend all year too busy and too uptight to connect across the sterile climate of the office suddenly find, in informal surroundings and loosened by a couple of drinks, that they laugh at the same jokes, share a loathing of their line manager, and have more in common than they would ever otherwise have known. And we're not necessarily talking about the stationery cupboard here.

But for me the one reason I could never vote to ban the big day is the look on the faces of my children when they realise that all their Christmas wishes have come true. It justifies all of the grief, all the queuing, all the expense and, in that fleeting moment, proves beyond all doubt the old maxim that to give is better than to receive.

So, go on, have a happy Christmas. You know you want to.

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22 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mr HumbugDecember 23rd 2008.

You've got my vote Laz, providing you get rid of Easter and Wedding Anniversaries as well.

DigDecember 23rd 2008.

How many people actually believe Jesus was the son of God etc died on the cross etc. Is that why the majority of us celebrate Christmas? I think not. I think the majority celebrate Christmas as it's tradition and they enjoy it. They enjoy giving and receiving presents, they enjoy catching up with friends and family and they enjoy a tipple and a mince pie or 2. As with most things people have a choice. If you don't like it Laz don't do it. I for one am looking forward to seeing my nieces open their presents and getting together with the lads for a few drinks. Although I do the latter regularly anyway. Happy Christmas everybody. To help you through the festive period Laz I've sent you a prezzie. It's from me and The Prof. It's a Mighty Morphine Power Lozenger.

adolfDecember 23rd 2008.

Larry must have had too much xmas spirit when he wrote this. The yin and yang line doesn't make any sense.

RobSlackDecember 23rd 2008.

If it is then only way to get rid of the nonsense of people like Joanna Bogle, let us scrap Xmas. Great for the kids and a welcome break for people at work. But if it helps to prolong the hideous bigotted nonsense of people like Bogle we need to scrap it ASAP (and have April Break instead of Easter)

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2008.

I don't think that Christmas should be abolished howetherIf eveyone gave up christmas for one year and donated all of the the money saved to charities dedicated to ending world poverty and starvation the problem could virtually be erradicated overnight

EleanorRigsbyDecember 23rd 2008.

That Mr Laz is just trying to wind us up with his thing about Christmas. I swear I spotted him doing some last minute Chrimbo shopping at the Oxfam shop in Bold Street.

BeatlesGuruDecember 23rd 2008.

Before Christ came, this time of year was actually an ancient Roman backanalian feast. There is a little doubt that it is this backanalian feast that the vast majority of people are actually celebrating. Since those who actually go to Christmas services are no doubt in a minority. Because at Christmas you would see far more people drinking and enjoying themselves at home or in a pub than those in Christmas church services.I reckon I could just as easily adapt the comments of the late and great John Lennon here by saying that drinking and enjoyment is more popular than church. Or television and pubs are more popular than church.

scousekrautDecember 23rd 2008.

Christmas is a chance for a bit of piece and quiet and a chance to reflect on the year if you want to, and send cards to people you haven't seen for years.Sadly many people go on the binge for two weeks. If you cannot afford big presents and lots of drink then don't buy them. Also Xmas Eve is one of the most violent nights in the year as lots of people get totally drunk and start fighting. This is hardly the right spirit is it? In Germany everything is closed on Xmas Eve and people have a quiet evening with their families or friends.

matty kellyDecember 23rd 2008.

Forget town it belongs to animals and druggies. My mam would be spinning in her grave if she saw how the gangsters where robbing and shooting there way across Liverpool.Girls cant go out to pubs in case of daterape drugs and spiked drinks. After the AIDs blood in the soup story in the Daily Mail its impossible to feel comfortable in any eating place in liverpool now.The police should be given special powers to detain known gangsters and licensing hours should return to prewar standards.

oasisfanDecember 23rd 2008.

Beatlesguru you are a mouron if u think lennon cared. he left as soon as he had enuff money to move to a decent crimefree and clean place.Dont live in the past. Liverpool is dead as a dorenail and should be buried for ever.

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2008.

Er that's not how you spell doornail, is it? Or enough. Or Moron. perhaps you should learn, then you can make a hat with the latter pasted on it.

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2008.

Didn't Lennon get shot dead in his new crimefree and clean place, oh moron who cannot spell?

AndyDecember 23rd 2008.

Wheras Oasis stayed in their Manc council estate

DigDecember 23rd 2008.

Oasisfan has took the award for the funniest anti Liverpool rant. A picture of the Liverpool landmark of your choice is all yours. Well done Oasisfan and Merry Christmas.

Pop TartDecember 23rd 2008.


Good King RedmondDecember 23rd 2008.

Excellent! Love it

Professor ChucklebuttyDecember 23rd 2008.

Wonderful stuff. Deserving more prominance than the rants.Brought back memories too. I used to go into Beethoven's boozer on Lark Lane. You could always get served late as he never heard the bell for last orders. He wasn't a great drinker himself, usually no more than four pints. By Beethovens' Fifth he'd pass out on the floor for the night and people would think he was Liszt.

Credit crunchDecember 23rd 2008.

Right, I have just sweated blood and tears over cooking a kelly bronze turkey costing sixty ****ing quid to feed a bunch of kids and assorted old bags who clearly couldn't be arsed if I'd served up turkey Cow & Gate and all the timmings. "Nice" they volunteered when prompted. As they did with the hundreds of pounds of unecessary gifts we al forked out. Maybe it was ****e, but I don't bloody think so, mate. I'm with Larry and on a slow boat to China next year!

DigDecember 23rd 2008.

Was the blood, sweat and tears in lieu of gravy? Yummy.

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2008.

Why abolish it? If you don't like it then don't take part. Having your long, dull winter with nothing to break it up but leave the rest of us with a chance to get together and spend our common bank holiday spending quality time with those we'd dearly like to see more of the rest of the year.

mattyDecember 23rd 2008.

You should be glad of any food you can get. it wasnt so long ago that local people were starving and scraping a bare living from rubbish tips after years of tory misrule. once upon a time sugar butties and conny ony would be nectar of the gods to most of us. sauce butties were a treat and the only meat we saw was a sausage roll at xmas.My mam and dad made pies from bread and bisto to keep 12 kids supplied with hot food in desprate winters.These kids make me sick with there pizza and fried chicken lifestyle. they dont know there borne.

Saucy JackDecember 23rd 2008.

Matty, I suppose you'll be telling us next that all you got an apple and an orange for Christmas and a piece of string.

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