Well, I'm going to hazard a guess that I won't be able to put an entry in my blog tomorrow, since it's Christmas Eve and we have to drive six hours to get to my partner's family's home in Pennsylvania. Yes, it's that time of year again, where we have to deal with Christmas. Actually, as members of the biggest Consumer Empire in history (that is, the U.S.A.) we've had to deal with Christmas since late October; naturally this bugs me rotten. Here I am, trying to be a serious media scholar, grading papers and getting my manuscripts published so they can be read by six or seven like-minded scholars who give a damn ... and Christmas keeps butting in with its lights and ads and jingles ... you just can't ignore it! I'm forced to align myself with comedian Lewis Black
's exasperation. Black, as a very lapsed Jew (I'm a very lapsed Presbyterian), has been heard to exclaim, in one of his Comedy Central
specials: "How long does it take you people to shop!?" (Btw, thank you, Viacom
, for giving us Comedy Central, and showing you don't completely suck!) So I guess I think Christmas is a pain! Fact is, I don't get into Christmas until really really late, i.e., when my partner and I grab a(nother) glass of wine and turn on the telly at 10 p.m. on Xmas Eve to watch the 1951 version of "Scrooge"/"A Christmas Carol"
, starring the wonderful Alastair Sim
, aired every year on WHYY
(Philadelphia/Wilmington Public Television).
So Christmas is just terribly tacky, that's established -- apart from Alastair Sim and WHYY, of course. It's American capitalism gone mad! But here's the thing: There is a country where Christmas is even tackier than in America. As my partner never tires of pointing out, that country is Britain. In fact, when it comes to pure, utter tat, British Christmas knocks the Yanks into the dirt. (I would love to make an argument that the Scots do all this a tad better than our English friends, but really it's just as bad; the main difference is that Scots make a bigger deal out of New Year, which is much much
better in Scotland than in England or the States). Anyway, where was I? ... tacky, tacky, tacky ... Oh yes, it's forever mystifying that Americans associate Christmas in England with Dickensian snow, frosted windows, happy carollers, cherubic children, chestnuts on an open fire, all that. But of course it's not like that at all!
That's all bollocks, really! Brits open their pressies, eat Christmas Dinner, maybe watch the Queen, then sit round the telly and drink till they pass out. Then it's Boxing Day and no-one knows what the hell to do with that day. OK, so they eat Christmas leftovers, sit round the telly and drink till they pass out. Maybe there's football on. (Actually, there will
be football on.)
But it's all good, because it's still all wonderfully
tacky (and that's where Brit-Xmas still beats the US version -- with the wonderfully
bit). In terms of what they laughingly call "Christmas," Brits have for decades enjoyed/suffered/gotten away with all the following and more: Christmas Pudding; Santa's Grotto (complete with very dodgy Santas); Morecambe and Wise; tacky shops with ugly paper "50% OFF SALE" posters covering all the glass windows; trendy Vicars; getting drunk and then puking up at Christmas Service/Mass; bone-dry Turkey and stuffing; Noel Edmonds up the Post Office Tower (on BBC); crap wine; Cadbury's Selection Boxes; "The Snowman"; Blue Peter Advent Crowns; Beano
annuals; "Noel Edmonds' Christmas Presents" (on BBC); Oor Wullie
and -- in alternate years -- The Broons
annuals (OK, that's just in Scotland); the Queen's Speech (boooo!); Sharon Osbourne's Alternative Christmas Speech (ummm, yayyyy?); Christmas Crackers; the Bond Movie; Tunnocks Snowballs (oops, Scotland again!); and of course, rubbishy Christmas number one hit singles. And talking of rubbishy Christmas number one hit singles, perhaps the best movie to watch to get a sense of just how wonderfully
tacky British Christmases are, is 2003's Richard Curtis
Brit-Disneyland fantasy, Love, Actually
. This is the film where Bill Nighy
, playing an aging pop star, shows just how low the Brits can go. Harrumphhh! Country's going to the dogs!