HERE is the list of the 10 things that I dislike most about the Christmas period:

- the John Lewis Christmas ad (any year — it does not make any difference);

- the John Lewis Christmas ad;

- the Marks & Spencer ‘magic and sparkle’ Christmas ad (any year, it does not make any difference);

- turkey (yes, I really do not like turkey — and a couple of years ago I instigated what became known in our house as the great turkey revolt);

- artificial Christmas trees;

- the cost of real Christmas trees;

- the John Lewis Christmas ad;

- not being able to get to the bar in my local because of all the once-a-year drinkers wearing party hats;

- the sheer excess of it all;

- and the John Lewis Christmas ad.

I do not really hate the John Lewis ad that much but I do sort of resent the cynical, mawkish sentimentality designed to lure shoppers to part with their money. The star of this year’s ad is Monty the love-lorn penguin who finds his mate, Mabel, in the tear-jerking reveal at the end of the ad.

Should you want to buy a cuddly, stuffed Monty or Mabel — all of 40cm high — be prepared to part with 35 of your hard-earned pounds.

At the moment you can keep your cash in your pocket because a quick trawl of the John Lewis website reveals you cannot buy a Monty or Mabel for love nor money, with both sizes of the cuddly toys out of stock.

I take off my hat to the marketing geniuses at John Lewis who have managed to create a must-have product out of almost nothing.

But never fear — should you want to fill that Monty-shaped hole in your life, there are plenty of other penguin gifts for you.

How about £15 for a Monty tie or £20 for Monty and Mabel cufflinks? But the Monty and Mabel plastic umbrella (a snip at £19) and the £35 Monty and Mabel scarf were out of stock when I checked.

Somehow, I do not think my life will be poorer if a Monty and Mabel gift does not appear in my Christmas stocking this year. But given the apparent demand, it looks like I might be in a minority.

Is it just me who thinks the little boy in the John Lewis ad could do with playing with some real friends of his own age? I am a bit worried about him.

But no matter how disappointed I am with the John Lewis advertising campaign, the feelings I have towards it are nothing in comparison to the disquiet I feel about the Sainsbury’s Christmas-in-the-trenches advert.

My granddad was on the front line in the First World War and was captured and spent a long time as a prisoner of war.

Like many of his generation, he did not really want to talk about his experiences. When I was little, I had the fascination with war that many young boys have and I did try to get him to tell me some tales.

He only ever shared two stories with me. The first was of letters from home with coded messages from his family about how the war was progressing. More significant was the story about playing football with the Germans in no man’s land on Christmas Day and how hostilities were resumed with normal ferocity the next day.

It is difficult to explain the effect that had on a young mind. That story passed into family folklore, a treasured family memory.

Many years later, I visited the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres. I stood in the shadow of the Thiepval Memorial, the monument to the missing of the Somme. It bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before March 20, 1918.

I also visited the Menin Gate, the memorial to the missing of the Ypres Salient, where every night at 8pm the road is closed to traffic and buglers of the Ypres fire brigade play The Last Post. The ceremony is a solemn, moving and fitting thanks from the people of Ypres to the British and Commonwealth forces who fought and died there.

I understand the Royal British Legion has worked with Sainsbury’s on the Christmas-in-the-trenches advert. And I understand that profits from the sale of the chocolate bar featured in the ad will go to the legion.

But I remain uncomfortable about this advert. When push comes to shove, the purpose of Christmas advertising is to sell sprouts and parsnips and little ceramic dishes — shaped like Christmas trees — for olives, not to give us a history lesson about a brief, if important, moment in time. Given the choice, I would pick The Last Post at the Menin Gate every time.

I will not be buying a Monty or Mabel this year. Nor will I be rushing off to buy a special bar of chocolate.