Claire Black: ‘I appear to be uncharacteristically excited about Christmas. Genuinely, childishly excited’

DECK the halls with boughs of holly. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la-la.” It’s the kind of outburst that may well have sent you running around the room shredding the newspaper and shaking your fist at the dog-eared calendar hanging on the wall as you scream, “Does she know that it’s still November for another THREE days?!”

I do know that. I also know that, despite the fact that this is the season that’s supposed to be jolly, the allergic reactions provoked suggests apoplectic might be the more appropriate adjective.

I do get it. The endless adverts on the telly trying to make breadcrumb-coated brie balls look appetising (a box of Rennies for the first person who admits they’ve ever eaten one of those and enjoyed it) and punting sofas that you don’t have to start paying for until life off-planet will be a realistic alternative to trying to get a mortgage. And shops that seem to believe turning the heating up while playing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on a loop will be an incentive to anything other than murderous rage.

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But here’s the issue: I appear to be uncharacteristically excited about Christmas this year. Genuinely, hopelessly, childishly excited. If you’re shocked, be assured you are not alone. I have no explanation. I didn’t even feel like this when I was a child.

I don’t like turkey. I don’t like wearing a paper hat while eating. I do like brussels sprouts. But not with turkey. I’m not religious. I’m not even that bothered about presents.

But still this year feels different. By the time you read this, our Christmas tree will be fully decorated. White lights, a moderate scattering of felt reindeer, a few strategically placed glittery snowflakes and a mini fabric Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, including ruby slippers and Toto, who started life as a finger puppet but now gets propped by way of a branch right up the gingham pinny on the top. We achieve this wonder while drinking mulled wine and watching 101 Dalmatians. Well, we don’t really watch it, we just sing “Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil...” while searching for the dodgy bulb on the string of lights. It’s magic.

The unadorned tree has already been in the flat for a week. “What is that?” said my friend Alice as though she’d just spotted a corpse in the corner of the living room. But I was impervious to shame. “It’s a Fraser Fir,” I proudly told her. “Doesn’t it smell nice? And it doesn’t drop its needles,” I said ignoring the pile on the floorboards.

I’m just as excited about making my Christmas cards (e-cards, naturally, have you seen the price of glitter recently?) and buying my first box of brandy snaps which I will fill with “cream” skooshed directly from a can, and then post into my eagerly awaiting gob until I’m having an out-of-body experience as a result of the high levels of sugar.

How long will my Christmas cheer last? Honestly, I don’t know. Like a virus that disappears the moment you walk into the doctor’s surgery it might go just as everyone else starts getting tinsel-tastic. But for now, I’m unrepentant. So stick that in your stocking and tie a bow on it.