It is a well know fact that the British are suckers for tradition. And being away from home for long periods, I begin to really miss those little familiar ebbs and flows of British life that mark the changing seasons. Those things that give life continuity, certainty, and a feeling of rootedness.
So it is now that, as the leaves begin to fall in Central Park, I miss some classic British autumnal traditions. One of the main one is being able to moan about how early the Christmas decorations are put up in shops. The joy of being able to complain to one's loved ones that 'Boots is even earlier this year' is only truly appreciated by those who miss it. Here in the States, tradition dictates that, for the most part, the shops put their decorations up after Thanksgiving, ie, in late November. Where's the fun in that?
Of course, the British cannot keep this moan up for more than a week or two, when this tradition is superseded by another, just as delicious. This is that great British habit of complaining that Christmas is about to be banned. Words like 'Winterval' become common currency, and PC councils up and down the land are chastised for seeking to outlaw the nation's greatest fun-fest. Again, the States cannot really compete: Americans have long abandoned the use of Christmas in favour of the anodyne 'holidays'. Civilisation has not collapsed. Well, not completely anyway.
Given that the British have been bemoaning the ever earlier arrival of Christmas decorations and the imminent prohibition of the same festival for as long as I can remember (which is quite a long time), one would think that by now the decorations would be up in February and that mention of the nativity would be punishable by at least 20 years' hard labour. That neither event has come to pass does not stop the Brits from honouring the great tradition of moaning that such evantualities are inevitable.
Good for them. Britain is, after all, the home of irony.