Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I try to avoid shops at this time of year'

In the Red
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The Independent Online

You know how I said I'd developed immunity from premature Christmas rage? And how I doubted it would last? Well, I was wrong. And right. Wrong in that I hadn't, in fact, succeeded in ignoring the horrifying eagerness with which shops deck themselves out in the run-up to Christmas. And right in assuming that it wouldn't last.

As it turns out, I'd merely succeeded in postponing my resentment. I had noticed the Christmas decorations that had begun to appear ridiculously prematurely in my local supermarket, but I'd been so distracted by trying to work out whether or not I could afford a shop-bought lunch instead of a soggy home-made one that I had managed to submerge this observation into my subconscious. Alas, no more: the awful November tinsel is screaming at me, and I'm not sure how I am going to bear it until Christmas.

It is as if they are saying "Look at me!" as I walk past the shop window. "Look how much money you are going to have to spend soon! You can't escape it much longer." Of course, this is probably not the intention. The intention is far less nuanced. The shop-owners, in whipping out the decorations so early, want us to go in to their store and start buying. They hope – by getting us shopping so soon before Christmas – to extend the period of festive consumption, thereby expanding the quantity of festive consumption.

As if, even once our Christmas shopping is done, we will be driven by some impulse of capitalist goodwill to continue buying, even though we don't need to. This, probably, is not an unreasonable gamble – but, in my case at least, it doesn't pay off. Quite the opposite. So irritated have I become by all the paper Santas and twinkly lights that I will go out of my way to avoid encountering them. The result is that I have spent less this week than I have for months. And I'm living off soup. Thrifty and slimming. Maybe it's not so bad after all.

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