When you get to a certain age (in my case, mine), Christmas stops being a string of childhood memories replete with the excitement of guessing what’s in the presents under the tree that’s appeared in the living room (or even, if you’re really young, with the expectation of seeing Santa Claus’s sleigh making a night-time beeline for your home); and once you’ve got through adolescence, Christmas stops being the stunning spectacle of your apparently grown-up parents and relatives screaming blue murder at each other over politics after a few glasses of whatever; and once you’ve moved to Catalonia, it stops being the marathon of Christmas lunch followed by a Saint Stephen’s Day lunch followed by a crowded New Year Party followed by Kings’ Day and yet another huge lunch. No, when you get to the aforementioned certain age, Christmas has become a countdown that kicks off as soon as the usual trappings – such as tiny Father Christmases clinging, burglar-like, to balcony railings and hillocks of nougat bars aka torrons in the supermarkets – have popped up from one twilight-encroached day to the next. A countdown, because you cannot help but wonder, as you hang the usual baubles on the miniature plastic tree which you’ve bothered to set up because it’s so easy to take down, how many more Christmases have you got left? A handful? A baker’s dozen? As many as twenty if you cut down on the cava?
On top of which, this year, despite Pfizer’s rooftop shouts about a Covid vaccine, Santa would need scores upon scores of elfin task forces to get the stuff into our veins before the Son of God’s putative birthday.
And even though there’s precious little Yuletide cheer going around - given that our pandemic-orientated fears are still with us and that we can’t even visit the town next door and that we’re barred from the bars – not a few singers who are not short of a few bob have decided to cash in anyway on our diminished Christmas spirit by bringing out yet another annual clutch of sugar-dusted seasonal albums: the usually fairly catchy Meghan Trainor has, to her shame, released ’A Very Trainor Christmas’, featuring the classic ’Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’; the anodyne Carrie Underwood has out-anodyned herself with ’My Gift’, featuring the classic ’Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’; and Dolly Parton has offered us, wait for it, ’A Holly Dolly Christmas’, featuring, yes.
And on top of all that, as we will never tire of repeating no matter how much you may tire of reading it, in Catalonia we still have nine political prisoners who are serving sentences of between seven and thirteen years handed down by the Supreme Court for organising a referendum (the self-same court recently gave a convicted child abuser 24 months); and there are still seven Catalans in exile, including cabinet members and a president, despite the fact that their parties, in coalition, won the last elections, three years ago (in Bolivia, the exiled president was allowed to return home precisely because his party had won that country’s elections, just last month).
Merry little Christmas.