Enough with the Christmas lights already! | Steve Canavan

What is it about women and fairy lights?

Mrs Canavan would love this home's Christmas lights. Steve on the other hand... Picture by Shutterstock
Mrs Canavan would love this home's Christmas lights. Steve on the other hand... Picture by Shutterstock

I’m aware this is a very general, broad statement and there may well be lots of females reading who have no interest whatsoever in fairy lights, and to you sensible ones I apologise and beg forgiveness.

But it seems to me that a generation of women – namely mothers of young children – are obsessed with them, particularly at this time of year.

Mrs Canavan has always been a fan of Christmas.

While I’d quite happily support the introduction of new laws getting rid of the month of December (although the downside of this is the Tories would have to cancel their staff Christmas party. Not that they had a party. Absolutely definitely maybe not), my wife seems to turn into a pre-pubescent again and runs around the house with increasing excitement the closer it gets to the 25th.

Indeed, her behaviour even gets on the nerves of Mary, our four-year-old.

The other day Mary was laying on the settee watching a David Attenborough documentary (she’s suddenly got into watching wildlife programmes, which is worrying me slightly – especially the other night when a prolonged scene of two zebras mating with some vigour came on screen. ‘Daddy, what are they doing?’ ‘Erm, playing tig,’ I replied vaguely. ‘But you’re meant to tig the other then run away,’ observed Mary. ‘They’re staying together.’ ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘they have different rules in Africa. Anyway, do you want some chocolate buttons?’) when Mrs Canavan burst into the room wearing some tinsel on her head, singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

Without looking up from the TV, Mary replied: ‘Not now mummy, I’m watching something’.

Rarely have I been so proud.

As part of her excitement over the impending anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, Mrs C has purchased – at a mild estimate – 10 different sets of fairly lights, some of which she has placed outside the house and some in.

She knows I detest stuff like this so craftily did it while I was out for the day.

On returning home I didn’t recognise the place and for a minute thought I’d accidentally pulled up at some sort of tawdry over-the-top Christmas exhibition.

Walking towards the front door I half expected to be stopped by a man in a kiosk demanding I pay the entry price before progressing further.

A week on, I’ve just about got over the shock of becoming the tackiest-looking house on the street but what is really annoying me is that these fairy lights all need switching on and off.

Mrs Canavan is good at the ‘on’ bit, something she happily does every morning while skipping around the house humming Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

But – and this is the really infuriating part – she goes to bed before me and so every night I find myself wandering from room to room either taking out plugs or, for the non-plug ones, trying to locate the tiny box attached to the end of the lights where, somewhere, there is an impractically miniscule switch which turns off the lights.

It takes me about nine minutes and lots of expletives to complete the task each night, which is a long time when you’re shattered and all you want to do is get to bed.

I have grumbled about this quite loudly to my wife, to which she looks at me like one would a hair in a bowl of soup and tells me to stop stressing and simply leave them switched on overnight.

What she doesn’t understand – and how she doesn’t understand this after 15 years together I don’t know – is that I am a Canavan and was raised by a mother who is borderline neurotic about pretty much everything, including Christmas lights.

This stems from reading an article in the Manchester Evening News circa 1993 in which a family of four were killed in a house fire caused by some faulty fairy lights.

To my mum, leaving any electrical appliance switched on overnight is akin to suicide.

‘You’re digging your own grave,’ she said, when I told her I was so sick of traipsing round the house every night switching off various lights that I might stop bothering.

‘Mum, that’s a bit over-the-top. I’m sure they are very safe these days,’ I replied.

‘Well, suit yourself,’ her standard slightly defensive response when I dare disagree or raise a counter-viewpoint. ‘All I’ll say is you’re not only putting your own life at risk but your children’s too.’

Always been the dramatic type, my mother.

On reflection, I think I’m so against the whole lights thing because I come from a household where we weren’t allowed to put the tree up until December 23.

This was because my dad, a thrifty type, realised that was when garden centres started cutting their prices.

He would always arrive home in cheery mood on the evening of the 23rd, holding what appeared to be a smallish twig, sans about 72 per cent of its pine needles.

‘Four pound ninety nine,’ he’d announce proudly. ‘What an absolute bargain.’

If we ever complained he’d tell us the tree was an orphan and did we really want it to have to spend Christmas alone? Which is a difficult argument to win when you’re five years of age and believe every word your parent says.

What my father would have said about the fairy lights adorning our house I shudder to think.

The only upside is that in a month’s time, the whole thing will be over and I can get back to being properly miserable again.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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