Few events in life are good in both directions. Researching Marie Antionette again, trips in a tumbril, really bad both ways. Political elections bad for most, good for a few for a limited time (a week, tops.) Flooded towns – awful building up to the bit where the water comes under the door, terrible while it’s doing it and, although few things in life are perfect, perfectly awful in the aftermath.
However, I have just discovered a wonderful win, win situation, which makes you feel really good in both directions, is a level playing field for rich and skint, is anticipated with joy, can be improved with ease, increased at a lower cost and, upon cessation, makes you feel even better.
Can you guess what it is? Can you see it on the trolley of life? Can you point to it? Give up?
I’m not going to tell you!
(Actually, yes, I am, or the next three column inches are going to look a bit sparse.)
Oh yes it is!
They can be totally idiocentric and still be right. You can make them out of gingerbread, toilet roll middles and sparkly paper, or get children to make them, or buy them in the kind of department store where a bloke in a uniform opens the door for you and however they look, they’re good. You can go for cut-price in the supermarket and congratulate yourself on your thrift, or you can use the ones you’ve had since you bought your first house, or, even, inherited ones and they’d be OK. I bought dies to make huge hinged baubles for the grandchildren to decorate that were well received, and they were just white cardboard.
Nothing is obligatory. You do not have to have a tree but if you have a tree, you can have a real one with roots on, a fake one, plastic slot-together gold branches, a dozen bottle brush trees or no tree at all.
If you go full electricity melt down and fill the garden with lit shapes people will actually journey to see the result. If you go minimalist and just fill a glass vase with glass balls, you’re zen and ahead of the crowd.
A week before the day, garden centres reduce all their decorations, the biggest are the biggest bargains. Doesn’t matter what you buy, it cannot be wrong because every single decoration ever made is guaranteed to be utterly tasteless and still look great in situ.
Once it’s all up, whatever it is, all onlookers will declare themselves deeply satisfied, very happy, aware that Christmas is on the way and overjoyed in general. People will turn off the big light in order to sit in the feeble glow of fairy lights to squint at the television because it makes them feel ‘Christmassy.’
Every extra sequin improves the emotion, until we are all bursting with joy.
Only one event can improve upon putting all the decorations up.
You’ve guessed it.
Taking them all down again.
When this occurs bystanders will pronounce themselves relieved, glad to get back to normal, even if they live in a lighthouse, and pleased that’s all over for another year. Few life events give as much satisfaction as putting the Christmas decoration boxes back in the loft. ‘Done!’ barely touches the sense of achievement, regardless of the truth that we’ll all be living on beans for the next three weeks.
And this of course, is the clue to the real joy of Christmas. It’s the decorations. You just cannot get them wrong.