Here is my Christmas Card this year:

20161220_135020

Yes. I am going digital.

This is entirely because I fully support the Royal Mail worker’s strike and not in any way because I can’t be arsed to write actual cards.

Up the workers!

Another Christmas tradition I am rejecting this year is The Family Day Out To A Christmas-Themed Extravaganza.

We did try.

On Sunday we got all togged-up in hats and scarves and boots and had a wonderful drive in standing traffic to attend Tatton Park’s Gloriumptious Christmas.

The website promised we would meet Father Christmas and his real-live Reindeer, make decorations, build a den and feed the farm animals.

The website promised us a grand tour of the Mansion, all dolled-up for Christmas with a Roald Dahl theme.

The website promised us there was no need to book ahead and that the final entry for these delights would be 3pm.

We arrived at 2pm. Santa was off. The farm was closed. The queue for the mansion was approximately one hour-long and we were advised this would be pointless as we would miss the 3pm cut-off.

I had ripped eldest away from Netflix, youngest from Minecraft, Gwyneth from tidying. I had promised them a very middle-class event at a National Trust property in Cheshire where everything would be very Victorian and twee and not commercial and rammed.

Commercial and rammed is perfectly fine if commercial and rammed is what you’re expecting. If you pay to see Santa in a shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon you accept that you are buying an extremely long and boiling queueing experience, ending in a forty-second gawp at the The Big Guy and a shit gift.

I once made the same mistake with the Christmas Markets. I imagined a gentle stroll through quaint streets lined with adorable wooden stalls. I was promised unusual gifts for sale and a range of global foods to enjoy. For the children there would be a fairground and a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

In reality you spend an hour rubbing up against the entire population of the world, (you cannot be in the Christmas Markets for longer than an hour) during which time you will have contracted the norovirus. You will then collapse onto a tram, bladdered on Glühwein and stuffed with spicy sausage at which point one of your kids will vomit hot chocolate and marshmallows all over your shopping bags containing seven thousand pounds worth of ‘novelty gifts’ which you could have bought in Poundland.

After that loathsome experience, I vowed never to return. The fact is, there is nothing remotely Christmassy about Christmas Markets unless you are German and live in Germany where your local town has been German Christmas Marketing for decades and therefore it forms part of your childhood memories of this most wonderful time of the year.

Until now.

Tonight my family will get all togged-up for a night of commercial ramming. 

Greater Manchester Police tell us they have put even greater security measures in place after last night. They remind us that the UK threat level remains at ‘severe’ meaning an attack is highly likely. They also remind us what to do in the event of a terrorist incident:

  1. Run – don’t confront
  2. Hide – if you can’t get away, try to hide, barricade yourself in, mute your phone
  3. Tell – when it’s safe to do so, phone the police

If I know my Mancunians, the Markets will be PACKED tonight. And whilst we might not manage the full hour, and youngest won’t be allowed hot chocolate and I will stick to a strict £10 budget, we will go UNAFRAID into our city centre.

Because we live here.

Because we love here.

Tatton Park…not so much…