ImageSo it’s early December and we are being bombarded with all things Christmas.  I have to say that by December I am usually ready for this bombardment, it is the fact that it has started in early November that gets me annoyed.  I think that the Christmas sections in many department stores open in August, and I know that some department stores run their Santa’s grotto from November 1st or 2nd.    In the States, they have Thanksgiving to distract them from Christmas so that the Christmas decorations just replace the turkeys in the shop windows in late November/early December.  Americans always were extremely skilled at segue-ing (is that a word?) smoothly from one holiday to another.  Here in England, I don’t remember it so much from my childhood, but now it is exactly the same.

Let’s start at the beginning of the year.  The New Year’s sales, along with all the back to school specials.  January 10th sees the Valentine’s Day posters go up and every year, the cards get filthier and the gifts get tackier.  Restaurants talk of booking that romantic table for two to enjoy a romantic set menu squashed in next to a couple equally romantic who booked early to avoid the disappointment of missing out on over-priced and over-cooked but romantically prepared food.    A single red rose costs £15 minimum, but (and more romance coming up) petrol stations will sell you one at £25 if you forgot and are picking it up on the way home.  What man or woman could fail to be completely bowled over I hear you ask?

As soon as the rotting roses are gathered, Mother’s day and ‘gifts for her’ sections are rife.  Every shop has the ideal present for your Mum.  In a completely non-cliché non stereotypical way, the presents are all about slippers, smellies, and pampering.  All Mums like to soak their feet in peppermint oil at the end of the day or sleep with lavender scented sachets in their pillowcases.  Because they all have aching feet and dry skin.  Everyone knows that. 

The Monday after Mother’s Day, it’s the Easter eggs.  Thousands and thousands of poor quality, hollow chocolate eggs line the shelves of the supermarkets each one themed, but essentially the same apart from the foil covering it.  Everything has chicks or bunnies on it, and the world seems to be excited about springtime.  The actual reason for Easter (should I point out that it is in fact a religious holiday?) is not mentioned.  I imagine that if you asked a child why we celebrate Easter he or she might tell you about how Jesus healed the Easter bunny by feeding it fluffy chicks made of chocolate or some such story.

Right, Easter’s passed, we’re all in a sugar coma and now it’s Father’s Day.  Cue gifts for him: golf/football/fishing themed junk decorates the shelves and all the beer is reduced.  Nothing says ‘you’re a great Dad’ like a six pack and some ‘World’s Best Dad’ socks.

And then there’s a lull.  Well not completely, because more often than not there are sporting events to tide us all the way into August.  The World or European Cups in football, or the Olympics, obviously Wimbledon when we all remember that we like tennis, and the shops are full of strawberries and cream, Pimms and Barley Water.  Every packet of crisps or washing powder offers a free tennis lesson so that we can raise an entire generation of Andy Murrays to go mad over in the first week of July.

August is a quiet month.  They plug bbqs and charcoal and sell jumbo sausages (with deals called summer sizzlers) by the million.

In September we are back to school, by September 10th it’s all about Halloween, then Bonfire night, and from the 6th of November ‘tis the season to be jolly so that by the time it is actually the season to be jolly, we’ve all peaked to soon and can’t wait for January when ‘tis the season to be grumpy’ once more. 

And there you have it, a year in marketing.  There is an aisle in every supermarket called the seasonal aisle. It just gets festooned with the appropriate bunting at different times of the year.   I presume it’s the aisle you visit so that you know what mood you should be in, if you should be buying gifts for him or for her, if you should be jolly, or sporty, or springy.  

The other day my brother-in-law and I went to the local drive-through Mcd’s.  We pulled up to the big menus and saw that there was a whole Christmas menu.  It’s exactly the same as the regular menu, except they have added cranberry sauce or raisins to everything and prefixed the word ‘festive’ to the title.  It’s just like their ‘around the world’ burgers: all of these burgers are essentially a bacon cheeseburger with different seeds on the bun, and a different type of tomato-based relish inside.  Makes you feel like a world traveller eating a Swiss burger doesn’t it?  One feels so cultured I find.  Have I made it sound like I dine there every day?  I generally eat McDonalds three or four times a year, but you know, they advertise, and sometimes only a big mac will do.  In general, I am against seasonal menus, but maybe I would feel differently if I liked eggnog and turkey and cranberry.  At Christmas, the fact that everything comes in those two flavours irritates me as I like neither of them.  Likewise at halloween, finding spider shaped foods, or all the packaging having webs and witches on it does nothing to endear me to the product.  And really?  Heart shaped frying pans for valentine’s day?  Come on.

By the way, about two weeks after my first (yes, I sent more than one) complaint email to the bed company about their less-than-stellar delivery service, I got an email back saying that it was an independent national courier service that were responsible for the delivery (or lack thereof) and that they would pass on my comments.  Not a particularly satisfying conclusion, but at least they acknowledged the complaint unlike some other companies who never bother. (Springclean London are you paying attention?)

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