It’s October and the leaves are crisping and rusting and falling to cover the roads in dark orange rugs. The nights are drawing in and a cooling wind brings showers of cold rain with it. Autumn is my favourite time of year.
But there is an intruder. There are Christmas trees at the top of the escalators in Marks. Christmas cards and baubles and wreaths are everywhere. Nothing is so jarring as seeing a chocolate Father Christmas grinning gaudily next to some fizzy jelly spiders.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas festivities. I like mince pies and roaring fires and mulled wine. I love parties and twinkly lights and fancy decorations. Given my preference for being buried under a thick quilt and several blankets with a good book, pens, notebooks and a big tea within reach, winter is optimal for my own form of writerly hibernation.
The problem is this: yesterday it was nearly 15 degrees, a day of bright, warm sunshine. It was the perfect autumn day and though I spent much of it dashing about, I love the sensation that the seasons are changing right before my eyes. The simple fact is that I am not ready for Christmas just yet.
I’m certainly not a Scrooge in December and I don’t object to rehearsing a whole raft of Christmas music this early on (because every year there are always a couple of Christmas pieces that could have done with a week or two longer!). Once December hits, I will eating mince pies most days and playing a happy mixture of Nigella-style Christmas jazz, Michael Buble and Carols from Kings.
But for now it is October. I want to kick through piles of leaves and drink hot chocolate while watching a storm through my balcony doors. I want to revel in Oktoberfest in Manchester, go to a student Halloween party and pretend to be 19 again and hide behind someone tall at a firework display on bonfire night. Until I’ve been terrified by a Catherine wheel, I’m not prepared to even think about Christmas.
I want to celebrate more festivals. I want to fill the autumn and winter with a series of festivities, each with its own daft origins and traditions. I will happily embrace festivities from around the world. I would even be game for new festivities, invented for the sole purpose of postponing Christmas that little bit longer – just until December.
If you have any thoughts on what that festivity could be, I’m all ears.