Counterpoint by Scott Freeman Next year it will be oh so very different. . .


I am sitting here surveying the debris of Christmas settled like a fall of seasonal snow on the Freeman household: half an iced fruit cake with festive icing, nine of the dozen mince pies bought from the artisan bakers, a half-eaten poultry carcass, a selection of savoury biscuits and dips, and a bowl of mixed nuts which is just a little less mixed than they once were because all the family’s favourites have been eaten.

On shelves and furniture around the house is evidence of The Teenagers’ festive feasting: half eaten chocolate oranges, and silver wrappers from various chocolate confections. Abandoned gifts too.

The expensive techno gadget they really wanted hasn’t left their grasp since being prised from its packaging through half-opened eyes on Christmas morning, but less desirable items – the book intended to broaden the mind, the woollen scarf from a thoughtful aunt – remain untouched.

Our recycling bins are overflowing, although there is a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that the glossy-coated gift wrap is not recyclable and will end up in landfill despite my efforts to collect it and sort it from the sellophane and plastic packaging which has also accumulated knee-deep in the garage.

All around are seasonal decorations, the glittering, fairy-lit tree, jolly snowmen and Father Christmas figures all determinedly sitting it out until Twelfth Night, their fixed-grin faces mocking my silent wish to have them boxed up in the attic long before the new year.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the festivities – it’s just that I can’t maintain the enthusiasm for much more than 48 hours. So it is that I am setting myself some resolutions in advance of next year’s over-indulgence.

Firstly, I will endeavour not to join the mania which grips the population buying food and drink combinations to cover every eventuality. If Aunt Doris wants Yule log washed down with some foul concoction such as egg-nog and Benedictine she will have to bring her own.

Secondly, I vow not to be seduced by supermarket offers to fill my wine rack with bottles claiming to be reduced in price from eye-watering to merely affordable.

Instead I will put my trust in independent retailers who offer significantly better value for money.

And finally I will shop for my loved ones in the summer – before the advent of festive over-packaging, ‘comedy’ socks and compulsory over-spending.