Iceland vol-au-vents and that Wizzard record: Why Christmas is the triumph of tat over taste

Some people will never stop planning for a picture-perfect Christmas. Those people are likely to be disappointed

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The Independent Online

It wasn't a white Christmas for most this year; it was a wet one, but if you dream of an aesthetically perfect Christmas, just like the ones we used to know before the Little Ice Age ended in 1850, good news reaches us from the Nordham fir forests of Germany. There, scientists are cloning the perfect tree (bigger, greener) in time for Christmas 2016 – research deemed important enough to merit government funding.

For some people a picture-perfect Christmas is very important indeed, and they deserve our pity come Boxing Day, when the extra-large chasm between fantasy Christmas and reality Shitmas becomes apparent. Perhaps in sympathy, the Met Office has one of the laxest definitions of a white Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere. The snow-smug US and Canada require at least 2cm at 7am on Christmas morning. In Britain it's official provided some snow falls at some point in the 24 hours of Christmas Day. Even if it melts before it hits the ground. And still, we only get one year out of six.

If the weather won't oblige, what hope for other people? Plead all you want for a monochromatic decorations scheme, spend weeks scouring Gwynnie's for table-setting tips; it's all in vain. Christmas is the annual triumph of tat over taste. Bad taste always wins, because bad taste doesn't need to plan; bad taste just shows up. Much like Uncle Terry with his Poundland Christmas crackers.

Bad taste always wins, because bad taste doesn't need to plan; bad taste just shows up. Much like Uncle Terry.

Spare a thought for the neighbours of one Sarah Childs in Denham Springs, Louisiana. They twitched open their curtains this December, only to be confronted by her Christmas lights display: a giant hand making an obscene gesture with – aesthetically sensitive readers may want to look away now – the middle finger cranked up and down by a mechanical Santa's elf. They complained, but with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Childs went to court and her inalienable human right to be tacky was upheld.

In comments to the local press, Majorie Esman of the ACLU had some straight talk for the perfect Christmas planners among us: "If people find it distasteful or they don't like it, well, that's life," she said, while presumably shrugging the shoulders of her favourite flashing red nose Rudolph jumper. "We all are exposed to things we don't like, and people have different opinions. That's what makes for a free society."

Or, to adorn that sentence with the verbal tinsel it's crying out for: "We are all exposed to [frozen Iceland vol-au-vents, that sodding Wizzard record] and people [to whom we are unfortunately related] have different opinions [about what to watch on telly and government immigration policy, but guess what?] That's what makes [it Christmas!]."