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Opinion: Christmas always comes too early

Autocar Friday, 2 December 2016
Christmas came early this year - mince pies appeared in supermarkets on a hot September day

Despite my idle threats to cancel it several times every autumn, I’m quite a big fan of Christmas.

The daft jumpers I can take or leave, but there’s all that loving and giving and peace and goodwill malarkey. And that warms the heart, right? 

Right. So much so, in fact, that despite loving this job so much, I almost regret being back at work in January when it’s still, say, the 11th day of Christmas. By rights, I should still be topping up an elderly neighbour’s sherry, rather than already writing the second road test of the year. Still, I like writing about cars, so this is fine. 

What I’m still yet to ascertain, though, is when Christmas starts. This year it was apparently 13 September, when my local supermarket started selling mince pies. You might even remember 13 September this year. It was 32deg C outside and sunset was at half seven. How incredibly festive. Now, I’m comfortable with the Cadbury Creme Egg season starting on 26 December, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for this Christmas in September thing.

Not long afterwards, I heard the first jingle bells of the year on the car radio, always a sign that it’s time to buy an iPod. But it wasn’t the bells that confused me most, although they ran it a close second. It was that this was an advertisement for a sofa company called DFS – sometimes they have a sale on – and they made it sound like they were offering an amazing service by being able to deliver a sofa before ‘you know who’ arrived, hence the accompaniment of the jingle bells.

That’s a sofa, then, arriving before Christmas. In the space of ‘only’ 12 weeks. Three months. A quarter of a year. That’s enough time to sail to New York 12 times. Enough time to get about halfway to Mars. To deliver a sofa.

Yes, I know, sofas require a fair amount of manual construction and you’d even call some of those who do it craftspeople. But ultimately, this is machining some wooden joints, pulling material over the frame and banging in some staples.

So I just don’t get it. But I still understand that more than I understand the Amazon Prime commercial I heard this afternoon. The ad reminds you how annoying it is if you run out of things at inopportune moments: sweets during kids parties, that sort of thing. No doubt that is frustrating.

Amazon reminds you that you can buy things from it and get them delivered within an hour, subject to conditions: you need to live in a certain place (less than an hour from a depot, obviously), spend more than £20 per order and subscribe for £79 a year.

Buying something and having it shortly afterwards, then. How novel. It sounds almost like, I don’t know, a shop, only popping to the shop doesn’t involve a minimum spend every visit and an annual subscription of 80 quid. 

Perhaps I’m not cut out for modern life. None of these things, I suppose, is designed for cynical, grumpy, 40-year-old blokes like me. I have no reason to involve myself with it. Which is why it is a work of rare skill on their part that by the time you read this, I will be a subscriber, all so I can watch a TV programme starring middle-aged men falling over. 
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News video: Teen Surprised With Early Christmas Before Undergoing Risky Brain Surgery

Teen Surprised With Early Christmas Before Undergoing Risky Brain Surgery 01:47

Christmas came early for a California teen who is facing a major surgery with an uncertain outcome.

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