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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December 2004, 15:24 GMT
Head-to-Head: Scrooge or Santa?
Christmas lights in Regent Street

Full of Christmas spirit? Or fed up with the festivities? Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik explains why he loves everything about Christmas while Labour's Stephen Pound decries the commercialisation and attacks "tat" filled high streets.

LEMBIT OPIK

Incredibly, there are still some people in 21st century Britain who actually don't believe in the existence of Santa Claus! I'm not one of them.

I love Christmas. From Christmas trees to panic present shopping, I choose to sing Christmas carols and offer festive cheer to total strangers on the way home.

Lembit Opik
The Lib Dem MPs is passionate about Yuletide
In fact, I like Christmas so much that I dress up as Santa on the first Sunday of December each year and run round my local town - Newtown - together with 4,200 other people, in the name of charity.

To those Yuletide Refuseniks who say "Nuts to the Yuletide," I say "hey there, someone needs a hug!".

It's all a matter of attitude, and it seems a great shame to spend the time wondering about looking grumpy, and offering people a dose of humbug instead of mulled wine.

All it takes to have 12 glorious days is a smile, a sherry and 10 minutes of the Queen on Christmas Day.

And I always see at least one festive blockbuster in the grand old Hollywood Christmas style.

It's a good way to celebrate the fact that, whether you live in Bedford or Bedford Falls, it's a wonderful life.

STEPHEN POUND

I hate Christmas as it is - not as it could be.

It is all but impossible to hear the still, silent voice of the true Christmas when the ears are deafened by the clash of the cash register and the numbing waves of sickening saccharine seasonal sounds pumped out on the Pavlovian principle that Mistletoe and Wine empties the wallet as it dulls the senses.

Stephen Pound
Steve Pound is in mourning for Christmas past
It is hardly possible to see the star in the night sky when shoals of tinsel and tat flood out from every high street and the garish and the glittery glare out from every window.

Our Christmas today is the time of consumerism and a sickening sweet-scented Disneyfied pabulum.

Instead of gathering round a manger we are expected to gather round the shop counter.

Christmas has become a pagan festival of greed and falsity while the phoney bonhomie of the office party lasts as long as the lager does and then descends into a miserable hell that gives a hangover for the next twelve months.

The aching head, the empty wallet and the impoverished soul are the Boxing Day realities of our commercial Christmas and I hate it as much as I love what it once was and could be again.




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