COMMENT: Someone sent me a personalised Christmas ornament last week. It's a clear glass bauble with an image of my gurning spoon-faced self inside, along with the words on the box: "Your little ones will love decorating the tree even more – well, until they start arguing about whose bauble should be higher than whose!"
It might be the single most revolting thing I've ever seen in my life. There's some fierce competition out there, too. What with the 3D facial-featured Elf on the Shelf "made in your likeness", the heart-shaped "Mr and Mrs" baubles, personalised advent calendars and customisable trees, it's beginning to look a lot like Me-Mas, everywhere you go.
How it's taken us this long to turn the birth of an increasingly irrelevant and frankly triggering non-gender-fluid figure from the early ADs into yet another celebration of our own endless wonder, I can't fathom. After all, Christmas has all the ingredients needed to bolster the Cult of Me.
It can and has been extended indefinitely – not just beyond the day and month but now the season, too. And with an increasing number of us experiencing pre-emptive seasonal depression at the thought of pleasure and indulgence being finite things restricted to a single day or week, which can only be good for our mental health, this is presumably why the shops were already festooned with tinsel by mid-November, by which time Mariah Carey had already worked herself up into a hysterical warble over what she didn't want, need or care about.
Still, wasn't November a little early to be getting the trees out? If my social media account was anything to go by, I was the only person not to have put our tree up this weekend. But according to home interior gurus such as Aileen Shah, who was interviewed about this disturbing new trend recently, anyone leaving it for a few weeks may be too late. She decreed that "as soon as Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes night are over, it's time". By "time" of course, she means "to get the iPhone out".
You see, the real reason Christmas – along with the greatest artworks and most heart-stopping sunsets the world over – has been co-opted by the Me, Me, Me-ers is Instagram.
Fuelled by a furious one-upmanship, ordinary people chasing likes are styling their trees and homes like those of their favourite socialites and celebrities, who have, in turn, been showcasing their domestic winter wonderlands since what feels like early autumn, in order to maximise Insta-mileage.
This, and a report released yesterday on how Christmas decorations have changed in the past decade, is the only way to explain the rise of "blush pink fake firs" and nativity sets featuring anything but the actual nativity scene.
Any celebration based around food, as we know, is also always great for the 'gram. And because a proper Me-Mas involves standing out from the hordes, over half of millennials are reportedly planning on buying "more colourful foods" this Christmas in order to make their dinner – and therefore themselves – look more appealing on social media.
According to research published by American Express Shop Small yesterday, Brits will make their friends and family wait an average of two minutes to start their Christmas lunch this year, with 29 percent of millennials taking up to seven minutes to get the perfect shot.
All that's left once the culinary status symbols have been posted are the gifts, and that's an increasingly brief affair now in real life, what with the rise of craven wedding-style online Christmas "lists" and apps such as Thingstogetme.com – where you can "snap up your gifts and check off what's been purchased", so that no one ever has to go through the trauma of duplicate presents ever again.
See, too, the increasing popularity both of "self-gifting" – deciding, on balance, that you prefer yourself to everyone else – and "Me-Mas gifting" – when you opt to keep a present that you originally bought for someone else.
Pity the poor fool who still thought Christmas was the season to think about anyone else.