Ho, Ho, Ho?

Cáit Moloney on over-eager Christmas advertisers and living with a hidden celebrity in our midst.

Sitting across from me, still annoyingly adorable with flowing blonde hair and those big doe eyes, is an iconic figure that shaped millions of childhoods the world over.  No, I am not acquainted with Macaulay Culkin, nor have I resurrected the Milky bar kid, instead I give you someone far more famous, someone who has spent nearly twenty years on our silver screens…The Cornflakes Christmas baby!

I can hear your confusion, perhaps you fear I have been let loose on the maternity ward after too much caffeine and stolen some poor infant, for this reason alone, please allow me a chance to explain.

Every year, though you can always count on new and modern advertising, we see a few classic, festive advertisements that never fail to warm the cockles of the nation’s heart. There is of course the Coco Cola ad with the chugging of the train past that eternally youthful boy and his long-suffering grandfather.

Now nearly twenty, and without the pink babygro (I ask what happened to it, she politely ignores me), sits the iconic star of Christmas

The Budweiser ad with those mischievous horses frolicking in the snow. And the Kellogg’s Cornflake ad with those American children who know how to apply the word “unorthodox” in a sentence. Except, turns out, those Kellogg’s children have grown up and one of them actually lives with me.

Every morning when I roll ungracefully out of bed and stagger blindly towards the perpetually empty food press, I am in the presence of celebrity. Now nearly twenty, and without the pink babygro (I ask what happened to it, she politely ignores me), sits the iconic star of Christmas.

She refuses to be named on the basis that I am a hugely embarrassing housemate, which of course is quite a fair point.  I ask if it’s weird to see herself on television during the festive season, she complains that the ad is actually shown as early as October. Again, another excellent point.

Why is it that we are bombarded with festive images before we even have a chance to wash off the last of the factor 50 suncream?  Brown Thomas put up their classy and unrealistic displays of the ‘perfect’ Christmas, while other clothing chains are still targeting the ‘back-to-school’ market.

Does it really make that much extra profit by dragging Christmas out just that extra little bit?  Hardly. Instead, it seems to lessen the impact of the entire season. The point of Christmas (devout Christians please don’t lynch me), is to just relax and be with your family. For me, Christmas day revolves around a rampageous and often violent game of Trivial Pursuit we play when we can no long swallow due to shocking over-consumption. My drunken uncle tries to assume control of the game, we all ignore him, and then chaos ensues.  Every year.

It has to be about as far removed from the ideal that shops like Brown Thomas insist on showing us in the middle of Halloween as one can get.  No one needs the pressure of trying to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas, and especially parents who struggle to make it to the festive season the best it can be. How can these big advertising chains justify bombarding these families with all that is unobtainable?

So let’s ignore the tyranny of early advertisements, because as much as I love Christmas, and I do, it’s a tiny bit weird to be contemplating the season, even as I write this. So I have made quite a reasonable resolution in regards to my acknowledgement of Santa’s season. I am refusing to recognise it as Christmas until the Cornflakes baby utters her first “Ho, Ho, Ho”. Which she refuses to do until it’s actually Christmas.

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