It was once the case that family rows on Christmas day were usually the result of over-indulgence in drink.
Gran has one sherry too many and, over the plum pudding, makes an inappropriate comment to her daughter about some long-forgotten incident, daughter then bursts into tears, husband comes to her support but foolishly makes things worse by calling granny “an interfering old witch”, husband’s brother-in-law turns to him and barks, “Don’t you talk to my mother like that!.”
I imagine you get the drift…
No doubt most of us have been there, or close to something similar, at least one Christmas in our lives.
Nowadays, the greater danger is of domestic angst kicking off as soon as the presents start to be opened and before the first glass of fizz is even poured.
I refer to contemporary packaging which is a bane of modern life at various times throughout the year but particularly at Christmas.
This is especially true of toys and home-technical products and the smaller portable items seem to be greater culprits than ‘big ticket’ goods.
Cameras, MP3 players, headphones, electric toothbrushes, even miniscule memory sticks, all are tightly secured in heat-sealed blister packs or clamshells which it would seem need the concentration of a Yuri Geller to open cleanly.
Recipients frequently complain of having to force open packages and thus compromising their rights to a refund if the product turns out to be unsuitable.
But of equal concern are the injuries that come with modern packaging.
A Which? survey on what has become known as ‘wrap rage’ reported that four in ten respondents claimed to have sustained cut fingers, bruised knuckles or strained wrists while attempting to open their packages.
A list of most frustrating product packaging examined by Which? included a pair of scissors retailed by a popular High Street stationer. With the product held in place under moulded plastic by a cable tie, it meant that you actually needed a pair of scissors to cut free your new scissors!
Much of this is down to the manufacturers themselves – for example to help protect goods while in transit and also to deter pilfering – but some of the blame does lie with the European Union and its packaging regulations.
The aim of the regulations, according to the spin doctors, is not to frustrate consumers but to help cut down on packaging waste. Fair enough, but as with many Brussels/Strasbourg dictums which started off with good intentions, it looks as if the zealots have prevailed.
Come Boxing Day, it should not come as much of a surprise if there is a sudden upsurge in popular support for those organisations campaigning for the UK to leave the EU!