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Riverside Restaurant

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Crossing the line

Castigating Christmas commercial opportunism would ensure a very swift deluge of stones, bricks and anything else you can hurl at such flagrant hypocrisy. ‘Halls decked’ by the end of November, party menus ready by the beginning of September, and Christmas leave, mostly, cancelled: all with a view to securing those lucrative party bookings and healthy bottom (!) line, going in to the leaner months of January and February. Making the most of high spirits and loosened purse strings is what Christmas is all about isn’t it?

Driving past a well known, premium burger joint recently, I was surprised how taken aback I was (agnostic to the core and commercially alive to the festive opportunities as I am) by their promotional strap line this year, wishing us all (vegetarians excluded presumably, spot the allegory), wait for it…a ‘Holy Cheesemas’. Not even spelling sleuth Microsoft recognised that one and pressing the ‘add to dictionary’ prompt seems faintly (the glasshouse is well and truly buried now), sacrilegious (and try spelling that without consulting Collin’s).

Said burger joint go on to assert that: ‘in the most sacred tradition…Cheesemas is back and this year it’s cheesier than ever’! Now call me old fashioned (I admit to Radio 4 and slippers), but am I alone in feeling uncomfortable (sanctimonious?) at the inclusion of the words ‘holy’ and ‘sacred’ in the same sentence as ‘Cheesemas’ and ‘cheesier’? Sense of humour failure possibly; bafflement at such blatant conflation of the religious and the commercial, probably; disquiet at what Christmas is in danger of becoming (has already become?), certainly.

I’m sure Christianity won’t take offence at such marketing vernacular- as I am tending to – and no doubt it’s water off a duck’s back (or goose’s at this time of year I suppose) to most believers, but I can’t help thinking that even for us secularists, commercialism needs to take a back seat at some stage of this, fundamentally, Christian festival (some would argue Pagan, but even a Druid may baulk at ‘Cheesemas’). Add balance with a slice of (no, not cheese this time) pure religious theatre, and listen to the broadcast from King’s College at 3pm on Christmas Eve, guaranteed to melt even the hardest hearts (or the maturest cheddar if we’re still on the cheese jokes). Anyway, it’s on radio 4, it’s magical and I may even be wearing my slippers by that stage.

So, as all we commercial opportunists thrill at the incessant trill of the till (cheesiness has a place, just not the same place as ‘holy’ and ‘sacred’), this December, let’s pause awhile, and at the very least thank our lucky stars (or whoever created them) for the opportunities that Christmas brings, commercial or otherwise. Even whilst making the most of the former – selling, no doubt, heaps of cheeseburgers in the process – reflect on the year past, hopes for the year ahead and, just possibly, more sensitivity when dreaming up next year’s promotional pitch.

And at the risk of going all schmaltzy on you, and in answer to my question in the first paragraph: we really do enjoy hosting celebrations of all types, from Christenings to Anniversaries to big Birthdays as well as Christmas parties of course, nothing is more satisfying, rewarding and gratifying to be entrusted with such special events. And, I hasten to add, before the commercial opportunism theme takes precedence, the bottom line really is a very small part of a much, much bigger picture.

May your Christmas be special, however you chose to spend it… and all the better if you spend some of it – time and money that is, keep up! – at a very nice establishment down on the river, whose Christmas decorations are looking particularly lovely this year, (though we say it what shouldn’t*…add that to your dictionary Mr. Gates), even if they did go up far too early.

And as Dave Allen signed off so astutely:

‘Goodnight and may your god go with you’

Happy Christmas, and over and out for another year, from The Depot Blogger.

*talking of things Yorkshire, (that’s where this strangulated grammar proudly hails from) try prizing off the pastry lid of your mince pie, popping in a slice of stilton, returning the lid and warming in the oven for a minute or two; the cheese will melt and merge with the mincemeat… be assured it’s delicious; best served with a glass of port whilst listening to that broadcast from King’s (in your slippers naturally)…go on you spoil yourself, it is Cheesemas after all!


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