April. This is when the infant Jesus was conceived, which is celebrated by the first person saying “it doesn’t seem like a year since last Christmas”. Clearly some kind of festival of birth is called for, in which we look forward to a long and trouble-free life. Meanwhile Amazon finds £100 behind the sofa, and uses it to pay for its staff wages over Christmas. (The remainder pays off its tax bill.)
May. The festive season is in full swing, and we celebrate the date of the first holy pregnancy test with the annual Christmas card records. Up for grabs are the titles of Closest Relative Who Manages to Mis-spell Your Name, Maximum Number of Children Included In The Words “And Family” By Someone Who Has Forgotten How Many You Have, and Most Pointed Omission of Your Partner’s Name By A Relative Who Disapproves Of Your Life Choices.
June. An official delegation is formally sent to Simon Cowell, who then chooses this year’s Christmas number 1, and makes a television series to publicise it.
July. Now is the time to start planning what you’re going to say to the Boss after a couple of drinks at the Christmas party. Remember, Christmas parties have a kind of Parliamentary Privilege regarding critical comments, so don’t be afraid to put the boot in during this general amnesty! Remember also that you can buy special Christmas underwear, red with a white cotton border, and covered in mousetraps for when the accounts clerk tries to grope you.
August. It’s two thousand years since the birth of Jesus, and this is commemorated by broadcasting every supermarket advert that many times. They are launched this month, complete with soundtracks about festivity, peace, and having to leave town because you’re gay. This means that no television programmes can be shown until next spring to make room for them. It’s rumoured that in 1978, they even stopped showing the Joan Collins Snickers advert for ten days in order to make room.
September. This is the month in which businesses that are likely to go bankrupt on Boxing Day announce their results, so that relatives who don’t know you very well can buy you a gift voucher from them.
October. The Wise Men appeared from the East, and prophesied that there would be an arctic winter lasting three months. In honour of this, the tabloids continue to make the same prophecy every year, and people celebrate by forgetting the occasions on which it failed to happen.
November. It’s not often realised that Bonfire Night was originally a Christmas ceremony, in which Guy Fawkes was burnt for that most of heinous of crimes, breaking a no-present pact. This is second only to breaking a suicide pact (and I’ve fallen for that one too many times in my life. “You go first” indeed.)
In the meantime, opportunities arise for seasonal work. Jobs created include inserting a dud bulb in every string of fairy lights, and being cruel to vegetables so that vegetarians don’t have to feel left out during Christmas dinner.
1st. The beginning of advent, and you can now open all the doors on your calendar and eat all the chocolate. Don’t forget to close the other doors to make it look as if you haven’t cheated.
19th. The last day for posting a card to a random stranger you’ve picked out of the phone book, so that everyone gets at least one card from people they can’t quite place.
20th. The day on which all the Christmas cards arrive from people you forgot to send one to.
24th. Christmas Eve isn’t a Bank Holiday in this country, but still counts as a special occasion on which straight men can ask their wives for anal sex. Good luck guys!
25th. Finally, that special day when Father Christmas comes down the chimney, checks that all the children are asleep, and cuts their benefit for having too many bedrooms. Incidentally, it was on Christmas Day in 1899 that Max Planck first discovered Planck time, the shortest meaningful period of time, which equates to 5.4 x10 to the power of minus 44 seconds. It is defined as the length of time between midnight and his children getting up to open their presents.
And of course, let’s not forget that staunchest of Christmas traditions, Neil putting a complete of bollocks on the internet because he forgot to send cards to all his friends. See you all next December!