Something For The Weekend (313)
For me and I suspect many others, Christmas is a bit of a Groundhog Day, and its just a case of repeating the yearly rituals, by telling the same jokes, singing the same songs and of course watching the same films: Its A Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, Casablanca and the Shop Around The Corner etc.
For one day a year we find ourselves trapped in Bedford Falls when we would probably rather be in the wicked but fun Pottersville.
Of course, Christmas needs booze and there is always that trip down to the off-licence, where you stock up on your favourite tipple. I can remember going down the offy with my Dad years ago, to help with the heavy-lifting. There he was ordering crates of stout, lager and a barrel of bitter and a barrel of mild, which I had to take to the van. There was all that whiskey and gin and stuff for my aunties and the sherry for my mother. There was Tia Maria and something called Dragon's Breath. There was Port and Babycham. There was rum and brandy and loads of mixers. I just got back to the shop hoping it was the end of it and there was my Dad chatting with guy behind the counter, and I heard him say, 'Christmas, I wouldn't bother if it wasn't for the kids!'.
But kids or no kids, we are stuck with the tradition and we have to keep it up.
Yes, we eat drink and try to be merry, as we prepare ourselves for the long un-interrupted wasteland of cold and darkness from New Year until Easter when the sun reappears and the holidays start again.
But there is also the old football dread lurking in the background too: seasons are very often made or destroyed in the early winter months. Players get crocked and suspended, the fixture-load increases and the bigger squads really start to count.
Or in Arsenal's case, the ability to sign a player like Arshavin outside the transfer window, can make all the difference when dealing with the demands of the bleak mid-winter struggle.
Or as the song goes:
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty fans may moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Bollocks froze to stones
There seems much to dread, come the New Year.
Villa's run of fixtures which include Spurs, Man City (twice), Chelsea and Man United, even Blues, do not augur well for Villa on present form and even the Blues fixture does not look much like a shoo-in, after the reversal of luck in the League Cup fiasco.
So unless Villa manage some form-defying results over January it looks like they will enter February with a bit of a battle on their hands. And should the club take the opportunity to off-load some of their big wage-earners, they may be down to a very meagre-looking and perhaps even unfamiliar team to fight that battle with.
This probably means that Villa fans should do their very best to enjoy their Christmas, while they can, as things look very tough for them over the next five weeks.
And you have to believe in Santa Claus, or you might go mad.
Either Villa are going to produce one of the most remarkable come-backs in recent history, or they are going to be hearing the sucking sounds beneath their feet, of that Grimpen Mire known as the fear of relegation. The hounds of doubt will then be unleashed and howls will be heard.
The ghosts of Christmas past will no doubt call in the night and previous horrors will haunt our dreams. So cuddle up my fellow Villans and take what comfort you can from this holiday, and know that things are going to be difficult in the next few weeks. We at least will find out what our new manager is made of, and how good these players are in a crisis.
The ghosts and ghouls might come tap, tap tapping in the dark of night, so be brave my children and take what comfort you can in the warmth and safety of Christmas.
Starting with Spurs on 'Boxing Day', amidst the smell of cigars and whiskey-breath, Villa have to beat a team who we used to dismiss as Fancy Dans known for their eye-catching football and habitual failure to challenge for the top spot. Only a few seasons ago, Villa might have considered them their inferiors, but not any more. Happy Harry has got them winning, seemingly with no defenders, and they have this season's phenomenon, known as the Bale-force, as well as a rather classy Dutchman, called van der Vaart, plus more strikers than a match factory.
Its going to be tough for Villa and anything other than a draw is going to start Villa's chilly winter haunting early.
Merry Christmas and Keep the faith!