I have an undeserved reputation for "Bah! Humbug!" when it comes to Christmas festivities. I am not anti-celebration at all, merely pro-celebration at the appropriate time. More of a Twelve Days of Christmas kinda guy, than a twelve weeks of Christmas commercial zealot. I'd rather hear a paean to paganism, than the electronic beeping of checkout tills.
Even so, I had a very strange experience last weekend, which in some ways, I'm still trying to understand.
Voluntary Action Orkney, an umbrella organisation representing a whole raft of Orcadian charities, sponsors a Charities' Christmas Bazaar every year in the Kirkwall Town Hall. At this year's event, there were more than 20 charities taking part, all selling festive fayre and raising money for good causes.
I was helping out on my employer's stall, which covered two of our projects, 'Love Food, Hate Waste' and Steptoze Yard. One table was laden with all manner of tasty homebakes, with hot soup or non-alcoholic mulled wine also available. The other table featured a range of recycled gifts, things handed in at our re-use yard, from candlesticks to soft toys.
But, yes, it was only the 8th of November. And there's something rather surreal about decorating a stall with tinsel and lights, whilst still wearing your Remembrance Day poppy.
Don't say a word, just don't...