MAYBE IT WAS EATING that last Terry’s Chocolate Orange that did it. Let’s face it, I was full enough after just two. But whatever the reason there it suddenly was, appearing before me like some strange, spectral entity.
‘Blimey,’ I said. ‘You look like some strange, spectral entity’.
‘I AM a strange, spectral entity,’ The Thing replied. ‘I am the Spirit of Christmas Nowhere.’
‘The Spirit of Christmas Nowhere?,’ I spluttered. (Actually, I’m not sure I spluttered at all, but it’s the kind of word authors use when writing about someone expressing surprise. To tell you the truth, I don’t really know what a splutter even sounds like).
‘Yes,’ The Thing responded. ‘And I have come to show you the error of your ways. Firstly, take off that silly red jumper with the reindeer pulling a sled upon it.’
‘What? This jumper my Aunt FeIicitina knitted for me many Christmases ago?
‘You hate it. Take it off, ’ ordered the spectral entity.
I did hate it, that’s true. But this was Christmas. Nevertheless, I took the jumper off.
‘Now remove that paper hat,’ said the entity. ‘Stupid thing, a hat made of paper in mid-winter! Why are you wearing it?’
I took off the hat.
‘Turn off the oven,’ said the ghost.
‘The oven? But what about the Christmas turkey?’
‘You don’t like turkey,’ said The Thing . ‘When do you ever consider eating turkey outside of Christmas?’
‘Well, never, I know, but . . .‘
‘Pour away that white sauce.’
‘This white sauce?’
‘You hate it. Everyone hates it. And those Brussels sprouts.You hate them, as well. Nearly everyone hates them. Lose them!’
I did as I was told.
‘At what time will your relatives appear?’ asked the ethereal one.
‘Well, fairly soon I expect.‘
‘Do NOT answer the door to them.’
‘Not answer the door? But one of them’s come all the way from Birtley in County Durham!’
‘Do not answer the door. That way you will not end up arguing.’
‘That’s all very well, but . . .‘
‘Every year, a blazing Christmas row with your relatives. Every year you swear never again. Do not answer the door.’
‘Blimey!’ I said. ‘You’ll be wanting me to chuck out the Christmas tree next.’
‘Why exactly do you put up an illuminated tree in your house?’ asked my apparition.
‘Erm . . ’ I replied. ‘Well, it’s just what people do at this time of year.’
‘Trees belong outdoors’, said The Thing. ‘Put it back outside.’
I lugged the tree out into the garden, shedding a million needles as it went. Then, just to keep my strange visitor happy, I dug a deep hole and replanted it.
Still he wasn’t finished. ‘And what are those things wrapped up where the tree was?’
‘My Christmas presents to people’ I said.
‘Give them to a charity shop,’ said the spectre.
‘But what about the pleasure of giving and . . .‘
‘Most of the presents are silly. And by Boxing Day no-one will remember what you or anyone else gave them. No one ever does. Donate them to a good cause’.
‘Blimey! Whatever next?’
‘Are you a Christian?’ asked the apparition.
‘Not really,’ I confessed reluctantly. ‘Hardly anyone is these days.’
‘Then why do you celebrate the birth of Christ?’
‘Well, it’s . . . it’s what you do,’ I said.
‘And why do you drink enormous quantities of alcohol to do it?’
‘Well, erm, that’s what you do too,’ I replied.
The spectre rose in the air., hovered just below the ceiling light and pointed a long bony finger at me.
‘Fool!’ said The Thing, ‘All of you, fools!’
And then it was gone, dissolving like Christmas cigar smoke. I paused for a moment, pondering the spectre’s words. Not that I had much time to hang about, I still had to pack the last presents.
Such as the Willy Warmer for cousin Albert. Hope he likes it. . .