I’M beginning to think again Christmas is the least wonderful time of the year, that I want to wrap a chunky Christmas scarf around the throat of Andy Williams and pull it tight. (Figuratively, of course, given he’s gone.)

Why? Not the usual cited reasons; money pressures, the unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection. It’s a little more basic than that. Auntie Ethel has been asking of my sizes recently and I can sense a Christmas jumper on the way. But me, being fussier than Norris from Coronation Street, probably won’t like it.

Now, over the years I’ve tried to absorb the acting skills of the thesps I’ve interviewed - but the truth is I’m not that good; “Thanks! How did you know I wanted a snowman jumper?” while all the time thinking, “Please God, she’s kept the receipt.”

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But if receiving with grace is tricky, giving is an even heavier Santa sack to carry around. Not in terms of spending, but in what to give, getting it right. It all too often becomes about buying something which approximates what the receiver may like, while knowing chances of success are rarer than ITV not showing White Christmas this year.

That’s not to say Christmas was always so pervasive, so fear attached. As a six year old I loved the sense of anticipation, of holding a new bow and arrow, desperate to discover if the sucker tip would attach itself to sisters’ forehead when fired from four yards. I loved the excitement in being fairly sure Santa would deliver a Johnny Seven Gun, alongside three annuals.

I loved the surprise that came when reaching down inside a long, grey school sock and discovering that along with a tangerine came a Corgi James Bond car, the Aston Martin DB6 with working ejector seat. Magic in a box.

But a few years down the line, at a time when the Beano annual gave way to the militaristic Victor, thoughts on Christmas were re-aligned. A single parent mother meant the hoped-for presents probably wouldn’t arrive. Eg, the bike was cancelled, replaced with a football strip.

Yet, it wasn’t so much the personal disappointment that hurt; it was the knowing how disappointed the single mother must have felt in not always being Santa satisfactory. It was the knowing how many waitressing hours had gone into buying that little cassette recorder to allow me to record Roxy Music’s first appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test with Virginia Plane.

However, sometimes self-pity did surface. One time there was no hiding the disappointed Christmas face, the year that b****** Santa left a car coat, leaving me looking like Holden Caulfield.

Eventually, things improved. A lovely red Raleigh racing bike did arrive. Yet, the distanced view of Christmas grew, a sense this time of year should look as though it were produced by Frank Kapra but it didn’t always. Snow melts, and so too do relationships.

But you can survive Christmas by having side orders of cynicism with the turkey. You can laugh while TV ad makers have Keira Knightley flog perfume while fake driving a motor bike dressed in non-sexy tan leather, or Johnny Depp digging a desert grave while trying not to smudge his eyeliner.

You can still enjoy radio’s avalanching us with the traditional Christmas songs such as Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You and Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas.

You can wallow in the those great traditional Christmas movies so often dark and misery-wrapped. As Phoebe in Friends once declared; “They shouldn’t have called it ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, they should have called it ‘It’s a sucky life and just when you think it can’t suck any more it does’.”

And what better Christmas movie is there than The Great Escape, in which everyone dies at the end? Or those Sony Channel films in which where the young dad with dead wife and the cute son/daughter meets a lovely lady who works in the toy store?

The way to cope with Santafication is to remember Christmas was invented by Coca Cola. (Had it been invented by Irn Bru Santa would be wearing an orange suit.)

And we should rejoice because it seems we’re growing new cynics out there every day. I had to laugh this week when granddaughter Emme returned from nursery to announce to her mother ;“I’ve got a part in The Baby Jesus Show.”

Clearly in satirising the nativity play the four year-old considers the crowbarred inclusion of religion into Santatime as suspect, no doubt thinking; “Religion has been killing thousands for years. Why coruscate it when we should be stuffing ourselves with Cadbury’s instead? And on that point, isn’t the cardboard content taking over the chocolate?”

Christmas perhaps can be a wonderful time of the year. So long as we remain a little dark. And here’s the thought to Auntie Ethel. All I really want for Christmas is a nice, soft Brexit. Failing that, a jumper without a snowman. But we should all remember that Christmas isn’t about giving or getting presents. It’s about the receipt.