Goodness me, is it that time of year again? 

Christmas lights, silver baubles, cute little robins and white satin bows that clip on the tree.  Silver chains with silver bells that adorn the branches and the Christmas sheep rather than the angel that sits on the top. 

Yes, sheep, don’t ask.  Laytonia tradition.

And all the outside lights.  Especially the lights that twinkle in the tall evergreen with the red berries by the front door that was here when we bought the house over 40 years ago.  Forensic research has never established what the species is but it looks younger and healthier with age, which is more than can be said of yours truly.

And of course, there’s the red-nosed wicker Rudolph that makes the grandchildren giggle with excitement when they see it on the front door. 

I cannot believe another year has gone…

And I can’t believe I’m back in the bloody loft scrabbling around trying to find the wretched stuff!  Where the bloody hell did I put it all?

When I say loft, don’t get the wrong idea.  It’s nothing so glamorous as an automatic set of steps gracefully descending from a hatch in the ceiling, comedy fodder for seasonal films like National Lampoon Christmas Vacation and the accident-prone Clark Griswold aka the brilliant Chevvy Chase.

Our loft is nothing like that.  Sticking with the film allusion, the Laytonia loft is more Being John Malkovich.

We knocked a hole in the wall of our top bedroom into the eaves of the roof.  It was a journey into the unknown but we created a large storage area – ideal for any occupants who are less than two feet tall.

In what seems like a blink of an eye, here I am again on all fours!   Crawling around, trying to find the blue Ikea bags containing all the Christmas decorations.  Shifting suitcases, boxes of God knows what, a set of skis, that with my knees are never going to see the slopes again.  I just can’t bear to admit it by getting rid of them.

What’s this?  A trunk full of old scripts that I hang on to in the vain hope that some Doctor in the House or On the Buses enthusiast might pay a small fortune for them on eBay.  That’s never going to happen, I wouldn’t have a clue how to put anything on eBay!

All the while, I’m muttering my seasonal mantra to Moya if she’s in earshot, but usually to myself:

I can’t believe it’s Christmas again.  It only seems two minutes since I packed all this stuff away!  It comes round too quickly!

I perform a down dog yoga movement to ease my aching back and I hit my head on a sloping beam.  This focuses my feelings towards the annual 12 days of Christmas. 

It is time for change and this would seem an apposite moment to share with you my thoughts on how the festive season could be adapted to fit in with this modern, fast-moving world.

It is important to stress that these proposals – admittedly revolutionary proposals – come from a secular perspective.  More than that.  A Jewish secular perspective!  Or should that be a secular Jewish perspective?  I don’t know.

MOTION:

Christmas – like the Olympics and the World Cup – should take place every 4 years.

Whoa, whoa!  I knew there would be a stampede.  Please listen.  Hear me out.

Is it not the 4-year build up to each Olympic Games and World Cup tournament that makes them so thrilling?  Think about it.  If events like these took place every year, would they be as exciting?  Of course not.

The same with Christmas.   Can you imagine the unbridled anticipation?  The fever-pitch excitement?   The look on the faces of little children, especially 4-year olds who will be experiencing their very first Christmas!  I really think this is a winner!

What about the religious side of Christmas, I hear you say?

For the minority where Christmas holds religious connotations, the status quo remains.  Nothing would change.

Midnight mass, church services and the religious part of Christmas, which those of you who focus on the food frenzy and spending spree aspect of the festive season may not be aware of, these will continue as before.

Not only will my innovative 4-yearly Christmas be more exciting and special, having the current annual hedonistic bean feast spread out over a longer period, can only be good for the nation’s health.  What do you think…?

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So, as the Christmas Grinch extracts his tongue from deep inside his cheek, here is a peek at Christmas in Laytonia.

Every year, it is a joint effort.  I lug the all the decorations from the ‘loft’ and Moya does the rest – and as always our home is at its stunning seasonal best.

It has been well documented that the Layton clan will find any excuse for a celebratory get-together and Christmas is no exception.

As with so many people, family gatherings have been sadly frustrated by lockdown, tiers and all the pandemic constrictions that this miserable year has imposed on us.

Christmas in Laytonia is going to be markedly different this year.  Normally, our younger son (God bless him) cooks a sit-down lunch for all the family, nuclear and extended.

It can number well over 30 people – and that’s with the Christmas Grinch uncharitably grateful to those who can’t make it due to their own extended family commtments

And every year I raise a glass and make the same quip:

‘For a family that was virtually wiped out by the Holocaust, look at us now!’

It will be a small gathering this year, well within the Boris dictat – with one extra self-imposed rule: 

We have all booked, at not inconsiderable expense, the Coronavirus test on the 22nd of December, after which we will remain in our own bubble.

From the start of this wretched pandemic, we have been ultra careful and we see little point in taking unnecessary risks at this late stage with the vaccine so close.

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‘Life in Laytonia’ is now heading for a short lockdown of its own.  A mini-Christmas break.  There will be musings but somewhat sporadically posted over the 12 days of Christmas.

It only remains for me to raise a glass and say Happy Christmas and farewell to 2020.

And there can be no better way to say good riddance to this horrid year, than by clicking on the video below and listening to ‘The Demon of 2020’ written and sung by the hugely talented Beardyman.  The lyrics are superb!!

Addendum, Postscript, Adjunct, call it what you like.  In true Member of Parliament protocol, I should declare an interest:  

The above-mentioned Beardyman is my son-in-law.

Despite that, I still think that he is hugely talented!

Happy Christmas…