Christmas again, and all sense of perspective dims, as if sapped by the extra energy needed to power the nation’s fairy lights.

I, like most others, am being drawn into the wave of mild panic, hysteria and tendency to overthink almost every aspect of the next two weeks.

Shall we stuff the turkey with sage and onion or sausage, walnut and apple? It’s taking over my life.

Let’s not get started on what to buy for my mother.

As a nation, we’ve started to move on from the time-worn complaint over the commercialisation of Christmas, which as we all know, reached peak nausea-inducement when a generation of children began to herald the first airing of the big red Coca Cola lorry advert as the official start of the festivities.

The debate tends to centre on the definition of Christmas – or ‘holiday season’ – and how as a multicultural progressive and largely secular society, we must mark the occasion.

The other week, fellow columnist Colin Baker reflected on attending a ‘Frost Fayre’, which, he felt, was named such so as not to offend those who don’t celebrate Christmas.

This sort of thing is now commonplace and while the grating yet alluringly alliterative ‘Happy Holidays’ favoured by Americans hasn’t quite made it into our vernacular, it does have a pleasing catch-all resonance.

I would hazard a guess that the most strident ‘defenders of Christmas’ – or Ukip voters in reindeer jumpers – don’t actually have strong religious views and simply see the watering down of the Christmas message to be a symptom of immigration and our changing society.

Many practising Christians – and I know lots that fit this mould – are more concerned with how they can use the season to help people less fortunate than themselves, whether those people acknowledge the birth of Christ or not.

Oddly, a little Christmas protectionism was played out at PMQs in Parliament on Wednesday, when David Cameron defiantly – if insincerely – wishes Jeremy Corbyn a “full happy Christmas”, rather than the “Season’s greetings” he was given in return.

And to underline this point-scoring measure of ‘Britishness’, Corbyn muttered that he had actually said the words ‘Happy Christmas’ after all. So there.

Amusingly, a good friend of mine told me the other day about his work Christmas party, which was organised as a ‘dry’ celebration free of any other potentially offensive connotations.

The nature of the organisation – a multicultural central London health group dedicated to helping vulnerable people – was such that it was keen to avoid alienating any of its membership with the usual intoxicating trappings of the season.

It reminds me of Shakespeare's Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, who roared: "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

Anyway, in this case management realised at the last minute that no-one deemed ‘at-risk’ of offence would actually be attending, and so everyone pulled on their party hat and got totally sozzled.

And therein lies the true meaning of Christmas.


-  A good week for all thing space-related, as British astronaut Tim Peake blasted off to spend a six-month stint aboard the International Space Station.

The frenzied media reaction to the news underlined just how far behind this country lags on the world stage when it comes to leaving our atmosphere and floating around in the name of science. One Briton in space in the last 20 years doesn’t sound like much to get patriotic about.

Meanwhile, a vastly superior tale of British triumph has finally arrived, after a Galaxy Far Far Away judged south Bucks as the most suitable celestial location to film the new Star Wars movie.

The seventh instalment looks set to break all box office records, and to think, it was all produced from behind some pine trees in Iver Heath.

And before you rush out to the cinema dressed as a Stormtrooper, spare a thought for Tim Peake – he’ll have to wait for the DVD.