It wasn't so long ago that if you wanted to get into a fight with a total stranger, there was really only one to go about it: head down to the pub on a Saturday night, neck seven or eight pints of Old Goatstrangler and start casting aspersions about some other bloke's parentage.
Cue a bloody nose, a swift ride in an ambulance and an awkward chat with two sturdy representatives of Her Majesty's constabulary.
These days we have Black Friday. To enjoy the same experience, without the debilitating after-effects of the Goatstrangler, just visit your nearest retail mega-centre and try to buy a 40-inch curved-screen LED TV. The sort that normally sells for £1,599.99 but – today only! – is a mind-bendingly cheap £1,299.99.
Cue a violent entanglement with a similarly-minded bargain-hunter, a long wait in A&E and an embarrassed telling-off by a PCSO who is clearly five years younger than yourself.
Then there's Cyber Monday, when you sit yourself down in front of your computer (nursing a sore leg, and wondering what to do with a boxful of loose LEDs), and try to order all your Christmas presents. Online, in one go.
Only to discover that everyone else on the planet has had the same idea.
The internet has slowed to the pace of a reluctant tin of treacle. The electronic whoozits that your kids have set their hearts on sold out three weeks ago. And all there is left to buy on Amazon is pre-owned CDs of Now That's What I Call Music! Part Six.
Sadly, that's the way the modern festive season crumbles, and there's no point in moaning about it. Instead, you should prepare yourself for the days that lie ahead. Days like:
Sylvan Saturday. You book your family on a sound and light woodland walk experience at a nearby national arboretum. Printing the confirmation and e-tickets consumes seven sheets of paper. You wonder idly how many more trees they'll have to plant to offset that little lot.
Blue Sunday. You settle back, after a splendiferous festive repast, and reflect that a Quality Street would round it off nicely.
You reach for the sweetie bowl, only to find that there's nothing left but the horrible blue ones, and that persons unknown have decorated the floor with discarded wrappers from your favourite purple, green and red varieties.
Damp Tuesday. This is the day you booked off back in September, in a wholly uncharacteristic fit of forward planning, so that you could support small local businesses by doing your Christmas shopping in town.
It rains. And it rains. And it rains.
Sleepy Wednesday. Work. Zzzzzzzzzz...
Nightmare Thursday. You managed to order at least some of your presents on Cyber Monday, and since then you've been feeling just a little smug. But this is the day the truth finally dawns: the goodies won't be delivered until January the 8th, and you most definitely do not have Christmas all wrapped up.
So where's Santa when you need him?