HAVE you noticed that this year there hasn't been the plague of Christmas music being played in shops from early November?

I wouldn't dare to take the credit but this was one of my campaigns a few years ago and I know that a lot of people have been complaining that a constant barrage of Mistletoe and Wine, Mary's Boy Child or - heaven help us - Noddy Holder and Slade with one of their assaults on the ears. It is not only unfair on long-suffering shop staff but actually goes a long way towards devaluing the true reality of Christmas.

The current season of Advent should be seen as a gradual approach to the sacred festival of Christ's birth and not an opportunity to bash the plastic and splurge on an orgy of consumerism.

If Christmas is taken over by the money changers then the whole of the joy of anticipation and celebration will disappear beneath a ghastly heap of tawdry tinsel to the sickening sound of saccharine songs.

Despite appearances to the contrary, I am not some latter day Mr Scrooge crying "Humbug" on the High Street but I don't think that I am alone in feeling that the Advent silence should not be drowned out by the clash of cash registers and the umpteenth repetition of Cliff's Christmas Hits.

There's plenty of good Christmas music - from the beauty of the sweetest of all hymns, Silent Night, to the genius of Fairytale of New York but even the finest food palls when eaten every day. We seem to be so keen to overindulge at this time of year that we are in real danger of missing the essential truth that lies behind the fevered commerce that throngs out streets and we would surely be the poorer in spirit if this were to occur.

Have a wonderful Christmas - but never forget that it is all about a miracle that will last long after the last present has been forgotten.