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Laura Craik tries not to jump the festive gun, takes a ‘pub crawl’ back to her youth and ponders which Christmas ad deserves the biggest roasting

This year’s edition of How Soon Is Too Soon To Put Up The Christmas Tree? is a fiercely debated subject that has been running for longer than anyone can remember. There isn’t really much else to talk about these days, but even by the usual standards of paltry conversational opportunities afforded by lockdown, this one is dull.

Clearly — though perhaps not clearly enough — there is only one correct answer:
1 December. Anyone who puts up their tree in October is a psychopath. Anyone who puts up their tree in November is either a strict observer of the Christian calendar (which dictates that they should be put up at the beginning of Advent, which this year falls on 29 November) or Jane Fonda, who erected hers on the 17th.

When even Jane, a woman with so much going on — acting, advocating, political and environmental activism — is moved to mark the occasion with a blog post titled ‘Screw it! I’m Going To Decorate!’, it’s little wonder that the rest of us no-hopers are so invested in the debate.

Normally I would wait until 12 days before Christmas. But that seems wrong this year. Which means I have a problem. If I put it up on 1 December, it will be dead by Christmas Day, its bald and wilting branches symbolic of the bitter disappointment that was 2020. Which leaves two options: order two real trees, or go fake.

“Rishi did not
award another instalment of a grant for me to
p*** it away on Nordmann firs”

The first option is out: Rishi did not award another instalment of the SEISS grant for me to piss it away on Nordmann firs. The second option is equally problematic: better for the environment, but soulless and devoid of that rich, enigmatic pine-tree scent whose outdoorsy aroma feels even more essential after a twillion years cooped up at home.

So 13 December it is. Until then, let there be fairy lights: icicles over the balcony, globe string lights in the garden, coloured lights threaded through the bannisters, twinkling lights weaving over headboards, mantelpieces, door jambs and window panes. Are you ready, National Grid? ’Coz we are.

Mulling over teen spirit

Old habits die hard and never more so than in lockdown. Which is why my mutiny of mums (two at a time, obvs) and I have continued our longstanding tradition of a Friday night drink. In their quest for survival, three of my locals have taken to serving mulled wine through a hatch.

In what is surely a shining and selfless example of community spirit, we go on a pub crawl: a socially distanced, devoid of chairs, tables, heating, toilets or, indeed, a pub. Standing on street corners necking wine in the freezing cold reminds me of my youth: it feels like having come full circle. What can I say? Sometimes, you just need to get out.

Christmas ad venting

Usually, the unveiling of the John Lewis Christmas ad is a day of national celebration, or at least national weeping. Not this year. This year, they’re too busy complaining that the ad has no references to Covid, while also complaining that the Tesco ad has too many references to Covid.

Meanwhile, over in the budget supermarket corner, the Lidl ad takes swipe at the Aldi ad (‘we don’t need cutesy carrots when carrots taste this good’ — a sure reference to Aldi’s Kevin The Carrot). That our current ennui is being vented so vociferously on Christmas ads is hardly in the spirit of the season, but maybe this was how 2020 was destined to end: getting angry at animated carrots.

Saint Dolly Parton

For helping stop the coronavirus via a $1m donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, whose work inspired Moderna’s vaccine.

dog walking

Increases your likelihood
of catching Covid-19 by
78 per cent, according to researchers at the University of Granada.