Like everything else, Christmas is evolving. Since AD 350 when Pope Julius decreed that December 25 was the birthdate of Jesus, the public and private celebration of that birthday has changed frequently, culminating, in modern terms, with the spin that Queen Victoria added to the mix with her introduction of Christmas trees in 1848, the same year as the Christmas cracker was invented by Tom Smith. The whole Victorian panoply of yuletide decoration and menu has remained basically the same since then. Even those who are rarely seen in churches other than for funerals or weddings might still feel Christmas is not complete without attendance at midnight mass or a candlelit carol service. What is embedded however can be summed up as food, drink and presents. We routinely eat and imbibe ourselves into an amiable stupor – although the stupor is not always so amiable in some families!

And we spend money we can’t afford buying a lot of things that only exist because of Christmas and the need to buy something for people who we can’t think of anything to buy for. Stocking fillers. Or put another way – glittery tat that the recipient will not be able to remember six months later. What has changed massively however is where we go to buy the assorted stuff we press upon others. The switch to online shopping means that what Bing Crosby would be dreaming of today would be a white van Christmas, as the various delivery companies grind to a halt as their workload increases exponentially. I have already had several failed deliveries promised for specific times, without any explanation or apology. I suspect they are so inundated that they don’t even have the time to let us know they’re not coming. Maybe next year I’ll revert to personal shopping, if there are any shops left after we desert them en masse for the seeming ease of armchair shopping. Another rather sad evolution is the cancellation of the great Christmas Day swim in Brighton – a favourite regular item in the news on the big day since 1860. The reason? The Brighton council are concerned that the general public fuelled by Advocaat and cheap sherry will try to emulate the experienced swimmers of the local swimming club and get into difficulties.

Understandable, but sad.

So I won’t be able to join you on the beach this year, guys.