Martin Minshall

Why I Love Christmas

Mon 23rd Nov 2015
Why I Love Christmas | Martin Minshall

I love Christmas! Ask anyone and they'll tell you. I typically start getting into Christmas at the beginning of November as it hits me that the Big Day is nearer than it seems, and so I should promptly start compiling lists of gifts to buy and things to do before I run out of time.

Of course, in reality, the beginning of November is far too early for talk of Christmas... ask anyone and they'll tell you! This year I had reason to, though, because this year I'd been asked to open the Altrincham Christmas Lights Switch On.

I jumped at the chance to help welcome Christmas to Altrincham and immediately began compiling my set list, beginning with a search for the perfect Christmas song to finish with. Before long I'd settled on an acoustic version of Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody'.

The announcement of my billing at the event fell on the same day as a somewhat bigger announcement, the national event that is the release of the John Lewis Christmas advert.

This year's festive feature was soundtracked by a reworking of Oasis' 'Half The World Away', a song by the band who inspired me to learn the guitar all those years ago. Suddenly everything fell into place and I knew that I had to cover the song myself. It felt timely, yet personal at the same time. With this, my set list was complete and I began rehearsing.

Learning and running through everything felt different to practicing previous sets. The cover versions gave me a new energy. It felt almost like an indulgence, but the songs I'd selected were for me as much as, if not more than, they were for those that would be watching my performance.

By the time the event came I felt confident with each song, lucky as the bitter coldness of late November gave me something else to concentrate on. It suddenly dawned on me that I was playing an outdoor event in the midst of winter.

I played through my set, but began to loose the feeling in my fingers as they succumbed to the cold; a huge problem as I was relying on them to play the guitar.

In the end it didn't matter, though. I continued on and as I reached the final song, my take on Slade's classic, everyone seemed happily oblivious to the cold - myself included - as we all sang to a Merry Christmas.

For me, that's what Christmas is all about and the reason I love it. It's a welcome distraction from problems and time for celebration with loved ones - something much needed following the recent events in Paris.