Column: What happened to the 12 days of Christmas?

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Oh the 86th day of Christmas, my true love said to me: “Bloomin’ heck, there’s a Christmas tree!”

Sure enough, on a gorgeous September afternoon – t-shirt weather, if not ’taps aff’ for the hardier members of the community –there it stood in the window, twinkling with coloured lights as if it was Christmas Eve and the bairns were busy writing letters to Santa before scampering off to their beds.

On the 85th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a nudge as we wandered down the supermarket aisle to point out the festive chocolates and unbelievably naff gift sets that folk only buy out of sheer desperation – or for someone they truly dislike.

On the 84th day of Christmas, my true love elbowed me in the ribs, grabbed the remote control and cooried in for an afternoon watching those dreadful, festive films on the Sony Christmas channel – the ones filmed in mid summer featuring actors who now all work as baristas in some achingly hip coffee shop, or, if they’re unlucky, Costas.

If the Christmas retail market was a perfume it’d be eau de’ desperation.

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Every year it nudges the start date that bit further away from December 25.

It has long since hurdled past Hallowe’en, and trampled all over Bonfire Night.

Now it is is finding shelf space in September with one eye clearly on the school holiday market in August.

Remember the novelty of going into that all-year round Christmas shop? No need any more – they’re pretty much everywhere now.

There is nothing more depressing than seeing a shop twinkle with fairy lights and ring to the sound of carols on a loop when the clocks have yet to go back, and you’re still padding about in your flip-flops.

If anything, retail’s determination to go gung ho-ho-ho-so early in the year simply makes me adopt the grinch position and ignore their tat for the next two months.

May their grottos wither with disinterest, and may their Santa turn out to be truly horrid to children.

There is also nothing Scrooge-like about saying “gie’s peace” about this early onset of tinselitis either.

The festive season can still be magical and wonderful. Just not in late September.

There is nothing better than Crimbo Day, eating ‘way too much while wearing a flashing reindeer jersey and realising you’re utter rubbish at charades.

But there are reasons we have a calendar. The seasons follow a set pattern – spring doesn’t just decide to elbow summer into the gutter and leap ahead of autumn, so what’s with the manufactured three month festive season?

Spare me the “oh it helps folk buy in advance” defence.

It doesn’t. They can do that without the tinsel, tat and 26 chorusues of God rest ye weary gentlemen.

I can live with the fac t the 12 days of Christmas have gone – long gone – but let’s get a sense of perspective about this annual spending frenzy.

Families are under enough pressure as it is without having to watch the shelves start to bulge with snowmen-themed stuff no-one actually needs. C’mon retailers – go rediscover the real magic, and meaning, of Christmas.