You are bloated and binged. Your bloodstream is 35 per cent blood, 60 per cent a mix of Nurofen Plus, Gaviscon and acetaldehyde and 5 per cent Quality Street. You will either be making more mess, or clearing up the mess that everybody else is making more of. There are tiny pieces of plastic everywhere, perhaps even in you. If you’re with your family, all of them, including you, will have reverted to their personality and status of 1993 at the latest. Television – merely horrible and chiding throughout the rest of the year – has suddenly dumped on you a ginormous dollop of sickening sugar and thick, choking starch.
The name Boxing Day comes from the lost Christian tradition of distributing presents in boxes to the poor of one’s parish. This has been replaced by the new tradition of a mass descent on the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush to buy presents in boxes for oneself.
Must everything be a binge? Sadly, yes. We inevitably retain the animal instincts of the Neolithic Era, so our bodies automatically behave as if we are not guaranteed to eat so richly again. This is perhaps the glaringly obvious reason for our rates of obesity. Unless and until an injection of Wegovy becomes a weekly commonplace like doing the bins or the lottery, we are stuck with that.
But on Boxing Day we could, if we really set our hearts to it, pace ourselves just a bit. Festive overeating, like so many of the self-obsessive banes of modern life, occurs because we are affluent and bored. We want something to do to feel alive, or half-alive.
There is another big issue with Boxing Day.