Finding myself without a tree or Christmas dinner, I set out in the Season of Goodwill attempting to spare a thought for those less well off than me, but then found myself in an overcrowded supermarket aisle listening to a loop tape of Slade’s ‘Here It Is Merry Xmas’ and couldn’t think of anyone. Ebenezer Scrooge would have spluttered: Bah! Noddy Holder! But my yuletide empathy was rescued by a freezer full of twizzlers beside my gridlocked trolley.
‘Turkeys,” I thought, “They’re unequivocally worse off than me. Even I’m better looking than a turkey. And at this time of year, the poor fowl do get awful picked on.”
You don’t have to be a member of the Turkey Liberation Front to concede that being a walking Christmas dinner has its drawbacks come the month of December. In a season when it’s nice to be surrounded by those you’re close to, what must it be like to find yourself surrounded instead by gravy and only really close to sprouts and spuds? After a narrow escape from the genocide of Thanksgiving, our dangle-nosed friends suddenly find everyone humming ‘silent night’ to an accompaniment of knives being scraped across a steel. They must wonder:
“What have we done to deserve this? Was it something we said? That gobbling noise we make doesn’t mean: “we like gobbling so much we want to be gobbled, it means: Heeeeelp! I can hear the sound of advent calendars opening!”
I’m sure as they flap up to turkey heaven, in skeletal flocks, the creatures must muse in mystification: “Feck’s sake, why is nobody eating swans?”
And they’d have a point. Why not snatch a free range Christmas dinner as it glides down the River Bandon? Why not ‘oven ready’ swans? There’s plenty of meat on them. They look snowy and Christmassy. I’ve nothing against swans per se. But if you want a white Christmas they would seem the obvious choice, and a more fitting featherless friend to put on the table and carve to bits.
Given the enormous avian sacrifice that turkeys make to the entire Yuletide experience I feel the very least they deserve is a visit from Santie. But he’s probably snowed under in the North Pole with - well, snow and seven billion letters from a population increasing exponentially with every passing December 25th. Last thing he wants is to be deluged by notes saying pretty much the same thing in wobbly illegible writing because the pen is being held in a beak:
‘Dear Santie for xmas this year I’d like – a vote. Or: my life. Or a Christmas dinner in which a large bird doesn’t play the starring role.’
Can I just say here en passant, that Santie has been a bit of a let down in recent years. I asked for a million euro in 2011, to be clever, tall and handsome with more hair in 2012. I got books, socks and jumpers. It seems when I was young, back in the early years of the twentieth century, I’d ask for an orange, or spinning top, or new penny farthing and Santie would always come up trumps. Nowadays I unwrap what I hope is a brand new BMW only to find it’s beige slippers many sizes too large.
Anyhow, there I was rummaging in frustration through supermarket freezers for a swan, when I looked from a window to see someone purchasing the last tree from what only ten minutes earlier had been a large stack. This happens every year because every year Christmas starts earlier. Folk like me think they’ve so much time, they’ll leave off buying a tree almost indefinitely, and so my family always end up with the runt of the forest: a wonky asymmetrical mutant that’s virtually lost all its needles before the point of purchase and then sheds the rest being dragged from the car and into our front room, where it stands like a nightmarish portent of a planet deluged by sulphuric acid rain. The fairy screams when you stick her on top. Put presents under it and everybody weeps at the sheer tragedy of the spectacle.
Feeling the pressure of being treeless and swanless and with everyone bumping trolleys like dodgem cars, I heard Bing Crosby start up for the four millionth time that he’s dreaming of a white Christmas.
“Why?” I hissed into the ether: “Snow is cold. It pushes up winter fuel bills and with the price of oil the way it is and everything else we have to buy to furnish festivities we’ve barely two spuds to rub together by the time the new year swings around.”
As a dislodged tin of shortbread biscuits fell from a top shelf onto my head, it occurred to me that not only would turkeys not vote for christmas, but I wouldn’t either. I went cold turkey on the entire tinselly experience and became suddenly in favour of no christmas. No winter. Just summer and the edited highlights of Spring and Autumn. Taking a last look into the freezer, I said to the twizzlers:
‘You’re best out of it guys.’
Then made for the car park muttering: “Bah! Noddy Holder!”
I can’t see anything restoring my festive spirits except a brand new BMW and a swan leg with lashings of gravy.