"Daddy! Daddy!" my little ones cry excitedly, "isn't it wonderful ... the radio's just announced there's only 32 shopping days to Christmas.

"Soon we'll be opening lots of presents!" they gleefully chorus.

At this point, I dampen their exhilaration by carefully explaining the reality behind the seasonal festivities.

I tactfully suggest they shouldn't get too confused by Judaeo-Christian mythology and whacky tales about strangers delivering gifts to unknown babies in a stable, guided by some improbable juxtaposition of a star.


I explain that the frenzy over Christmas Day is nothing more than a carefully orchestrated marketing ploy, created expressly to funnel everyone into paying an annual retail tax by midnight on December 24, to avoid being forever stigmatised as a Scrooge the following day.

Of course, this rationale is wasted on my little ones, who have been long beguiled into believing that everything, including the retail trade's over-bloated front man - the mythical Santa Claus - is real.

But this year it's different. When they ran into my office babbling on about decorations, fir trees and presents, I decided to gather them around and solemnly advise that unfortunately, none of us would be experiencing Christmas this year, because while there were only 32 shopping days left, sadly, there were only 29 days remaining before the end of the world on December 21, according to the Mayan calendar.

Of course, this only confused the kiddywinkles and left them a tiny bit distraught as I carefully spelt out the options for the end of life as we know it.

First, I suggested, we may be hit by a giant asteroid, or as Nostradamus predicted, a great comet, Nibiru.

Alternatively, our demise might be caused through a huge pole shift caused by galactic alignments between the centre of the galaxy and the sun.

If this happens, we can expect horrendous volcanic activity, potentially enveloping the earth in an endless winter, which would probably wipe us all out through starvation or being frozen to death.

My doomsday scenarios only set my loved ones off in a tiresome fit of blubbering, disturbing the caregiver upstairs, who came storming down, demanding to know what the hell was going on.

My tearful kiddies woefully repeated what I'd told them, seeking cuddles and reassurance.

"The end of the world? You wish!" she muttered tartly. "You're not getting out of Christmas with the in-laws that easily."