British people have a bizarrely hysterical relationship with the festive season – and Boris Johnson is taking advantage

One thing I have noticed, peering at people’s lives on Instagram Stories, is that some of us are celebrating Christmas early this year. Nothing too major – a tree here, a dazzle of fairy lights there, a mince pie snuck into a mouth in the actual month of November – but you can feel it building: not an anticipation, exactly, and not the giddiness of Christmases past, but almost a festive sigh: well, there’s not much else to do, is there? Let’s just put up a tree. Normally I would find this behaviour so tacky it would verge on the morally reprehensible, but honestly, it’s 2020. Let people have their tinsel and listen to Wham!.

The way I see it, there are three main reasons for this: boredom (lockdown is boring), a fundamental, bone-deep craving for joy (this year has – whichever way you spin it – been a miserable one), and the bizarrely hysterical relationship this country has with the concept of Christmas. I am a Christmas apologist – I love Christmas, sorry! It slaps! But it is supposed to come in waves, and this time in any normal year we would be deep into the eye-rolling phase of the festivities: the turkey–stuffing sandwiches announced with a fanfare in the various meal deals, the first jingle of Christmas music over the supermarket sound system, the faux snow on the windows, the stacked tubs of Celebrations, an annoyingly cheerful e-invite to an office party being held, inexplicably, on a Tuesday evening. The first phase of Christmas is a groan, but then, slowly, joyously, you warm to it: you hum some Shakin’ Stevens; you eat a small round chocolate wrapped in foil to look like a sprout; you come to, half-cut, at someone else’s dinner table, wearing a pair of reindeer antlers you don’t remember seeing before. Whether you want it to or not, Christmas catches up with you in the end.

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