In and among the many terrible and tragic headlines appearing in the newspapers of late, one that is not only terrible and tragic but also potentially rather disturbing leapt out at me: "Call for alcohol ban after Xmas concert ends in violence."
The headline refers to how the Christmas in the Park concert in Christchurch ended up with a whole bunch of people getting arrested after they got drunk and started fighting.
There are obviously many things wrong with this picture: that a Christmas concert, presumably consisting mainly of nice, wholesome, family-friendly light-entertainers belting out the standard repertoire of Christmas carols to, also presumably, an audience of Mum, Dad and the kids; that this can somehow end in a drunken brawl is special - even by Christchurch standards. You want a picture of just how terrible and tragic our binge-drinking culture has become? Here it is.
But there are potentially darker, more disturbing forces at work here - again, I'm not just talking about the fact this is Christchurch we're talking about here. For what if the Christchurch concert stoush wasn't just a few lads getting hammered in Hagley Park and getting into a bout of fisticuffs? What if this, in fact, was the dawning of a much more violent approach to Christmas as a whole?
What if Christmas, for example, is on the verge of becoming the new football hooliganism? It is possible to imagine (well, at least if you're me) that tribes will spring up supporting each of Santa's reindeer and fighting pitched street battles at events like Christmas in the Park with rival tribes who support other reindeer. Santa parades up and down the country will ring with the taunts of rival groups of reindeer supporters: "Blitzen, Blitzen, kick your bits in", "Prancer is a poof, he takes it up the hoof", "we are strong, we are Dasher, mess with us and we'll smash ya". There will undoubtedly be a group of drunken yobbos calling themselves something along the lines of the Barmy Elves who will sing a very rude ditty about how Rudolf's nose is red from sticking it up Santa's bum, before biffing bottles at the Santa float.
In the wake of this new, Clockwork Orange-style, infinitely more violent re-versioning of Christmas, there will probably come a complete rewriting of the Nativity. Crime boss Joe, is on the run from the law with his knocked-up piece-of-skirt, Mary (or Mares, as he calls her) when she suddenly goes into labour. And because they can't have the kid at the side of the road, they home-invade the stable of a nice Nazareth family, so that they've got somewhere to hole-up while Mares squirts out the rugrat.
While she's in labour, Joe calls in his hard-men (they used to be shepherds in the old version of the yarn) to watch his back while he hunkers down with his wise guys (lawyers, accountants and so forth) to figure out how to protect Joe's ill-gotten gains should the law (or the Herods, as they call them) catch up with him and bang him up for a few years. In the movie version of this new nativity, Joe will be played by Ray Winstone.
"Son of God? You want the Son of God? Don't make me laugh. I'll give you the Son of God! You hear what I'm saying - what I'm saying to you? Eh? Eh? So don't you come round here giving me that Son of God bollocks, because you know nothing of the Son of God. Nothing. Son of bollocks is what you know." Whatever form this new version of Christmas does eventually take, possibly the most disturbing part of the above headline is the possibility that the Government will ban alcohol as part of Christmas. This cannot be allowed to happen.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of anything that stops drunken youths beating up each other (and the police) while Jackie Clarke and Frankie Stevens croon Fairytale in New York, but we cannot let the stupidity of Christchurch youth lead to the nightmarish scenario where ordinary New Zealanders must survive Christmas Day without the aid of alcohol.
From the opening of the presents, to the cooking of the turkey and the carving of the ham, to being in the same room as multiple members of your family - it is clearly not humanly possible to get through Christmas Day without the aid of alcohol. It is the one day of the year where alcohol is a given, rather than a special treat.
Shame on you Christchurch, if the actions of your few become your Christmas gift to the rest of us. Shame.