I made the mistake of popping in to my local supermarket this weekend
I’m more or less ready for Christmas, but I wanted to pick up some gluten free mince pies and a pint of milk, so in I went.
The scenes inside were akin to those from the film “The Purge”, when once a year for twelve hours all crime is legal, and gangs of murderous thugs roam the streets determined to get the most from their night of marauding. People were thundering down the aisles grabbing produce at random. Husbands were hunched over hand baskets, battered into submission by the strangled shrieks of: “Rupert! RUPERT! Don’t forget the red cabbage!” Children wandered lost, blank with the horror of witnessing their parents’ devastation at the lack cranberry sauce. At any minute I expected to see Ethan Hawke bursting through the loo rolls in a desperate attempt to save his family from inferior Brussels sprouts.
I slunk down the fresh produce aisle, back to the wall, edging closer to the chiller cabinet. Grabbing the milk, and with no one to cover my back I dropped to the floor, crawled across the open space and executed the perfect commando roll straight into the baked goods aisle. Then, as I stood up and reached out for the mince pies, my arm was shoved violently aside and the last gluten free packet was snatched from my reach. I stared into the face of my adversary. She had the eyes of a hardened fighter, and I knew I’d lost; I dropped the milk and backed away slowly. As I made my escape two trolleys came hurtling towards me, both steered by the same woman, and piled high with enough food to keep a small village alive for the foreseeable future. The doors slid shut behind me just in time and I ran for it.
Now please don’t think that I don’t like Christmas, because I do. I have a tree with a star on top, the kids are running around in festive onesies, and there’s a pile of smugly wrapped presents in my sitting room. No bah humbug around here.
My point is this though: are we not, collectively, getting just a little too carried away? I appreciate that we have friends to visit and parties to attend and family to annoy. There are presents and decorations and of course the Christmas face-filling. I love all of it, I really do. However, the fact remains this is not a G8 Summit. The future of the universe does not stand or fall on whether you managed to crochet your own Christmas puddings, or Great Aunt Gertrude has the correct flavour of gravy. You do not need to purchase your own body weight in food; the shops will be closed for a mere twenty four hours and I’m willing to bet that a quarter of what we purchase will end up in the bin. This is not a siege. It is a day. A happy, festive, day, I hope, but just a day.