Ah, Christmas. Jack Frost roasting on an open fire... Rudolf nipping at your toes... Yuletide carols being slain by a choir... And kids dressed up like Aled Jones...
It can get confusing. 'What can be more Christmassy than receiving a letter from Santa?!' screamed one newspaper advertisement. 'Christmas isn't Christmas without a John Lewis advert,' I overheard on a train. 'We have two Santas in our Nativity crib scene,' I heard a child boast. When you have two-thirds as many Santas as wise men, you know your Christmas has got busy.
I reckon as holidays go, it's got about 15 too many 'things'. I can cope with a festival honouring a baby's birth via cards, crackers, a tree, and maybe a song about a reindeer. But as the centuries pass, we're adding more and more to our list of what Christmas isn't Christmas without. Mistletoe? Got to have mistletoe. Holly? Ivy? Alright, chuck those in too. Mulled wine? Mince pies? Yeah. Christmas pud, turkey, Ferrero Rocher? Round-robin letters, robins for that matter, panto, Slade, sprouts, The Nutcracker, The Grinch, the BBC2 Christmas horror film, the BBC1 Reith lectures, the Channel 5 Britain's Strongest Man contest, Noel Edmonds in a jumper, a weatherman on a roof, a sitcom episode that's 15 minutes longer than it should be, the Queen walking to church, the Queen at 3:04pm pretending to smile. Can you imagine Christmas without all of these things? It sometimes feels like if even one element was missing, we'd all be tutting on Boxing Day: 'It just didn't feel like Christmas.'
Lately I've tried trimming this list. Not as a 'bah humbug' (oh that's another one - The Muppet Christmas Carol. Actually that can stay...), nor as a puritanical holier-than-thou ('My Christmas is purer than yours - we just sit in front of a candle for a day humming Silent Night'). I'm just thinking if you picked your favourite five from that list, just focussing on them, wouldn't that be a great day? A nice straightforward celebration of that babe in a barn, born to save? We can still celebrate the Christian Christmas with some secular elements. Just be picky.
The last few Christmases, we've taken to performing readings - a bit of Dickens, or a nice poem. We take it in turns. It's fun. We've reined in presents to one small thing each that we think they'll love, rather than crazy amounts that no one knows where to put. We don't go crazy on Santa but we do go mad for Rat Pack Christmas songs.
You needn't feel the pressure to tick every Christmas box if you don't want to. You also shouldn't feel bad about doing the non-Christian Christmas things you like, like stockings and The Pogues. Christmas is a celebration. Invite as many people and things as you feel you can cope with. Just remember: don't invite so many guests that you can't find the birthday boy.
Paul Kerensa is a comedian and sitcom writer