The Twelfth Blog Of Christmas: The End

christmas mug

The first time I properly considered the Twelve Days Of Christmas, I was quite surprised by a number of factors. Firstly, with all the lords leaping, drummers drumming and ladies dancing, surely your “true love” is going to be sent down for human trafficking? Just something to consider there. Secondly, twelve days of Christmas may sound magical to some, but it is unrealistic to the rest. My family go full throttle with the celebrations from Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day, and by the end of it we are well and truly knackered. And finally, the fact that the twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day itself, and finish on January 6th, surprises me. Surely it’s time to move on once the New Year is here?

Sometimes I think it’s just to allow us some flexibility in getting our decorations down and finishing up all the leftover food (the twelfth day is upon us and we still have several blocks of cheese to get through, plus half of my Mum’s Christmas cake). Another part of me thinks it’s to do with easing the pain of letting Christmas go after all the build-up. One small cynical part of me thinks it’s to allow corporations just a bit more time to shove sales, discounts and must have deals down your throat. Whatever it is, I doubt there are many people who will be continuing the celebrations for a dozen days.

And you know what? That’s a good thing. Everything ends after all, and although that might be a particularly bleak way of looking at it, the beauty of Christmas is that it is an annual constant; it’ll roll back around in its usual fashion next winter, or even October as the retailers continue to push the festive limit. But even the supermarkets have moved on; one of my local branches had all their decorations down by the end of December, and were already pushing the “limited time offer” of the Crème Eggs. Only till April you say?! We better get our skates on!

At the other end of the spectrum, it allows those Scrooges among us room to breathe. It might seem ludicrous to those of us who particularly indulge in the festive period, but not everyone likes Christmas or indeed celebrates it; last year, one of my housemates didn’t even go home for the big day, and spent it alone in our house share. While I find that image horrific, others won’t be bothered, and of course they are entitled to their own opinion. If anything, both sides will stop spouting their opinion of Christmas, and we can all go back to getting along.

Do I have any regrets from the period? Well, apart from the number of mince pies I consumed, I didn’t take as many photos as I could have; I always forgot to beg and plead family members to try and smile for a handful of pictures. While they would have been pleasing trinkets to an extent, the honest truth is that I was simply too engrossed in enjoying myself to even think of it. Christmas is best experienced in the moment itself; besides, photos just would have been too enticing for me to look over at other times of year, when really Christmas should be the last thing on my mind.

So, farewell Christmas. Despite a few bumps, 2015 was an absolute cracker, and 2016’s has a lot to live up to. Bring plenty of festive cheer (and more mince pies) on your sleigh when you come back.

The Ninth Blog Of Christmas: Boxing Day

Boxing Day

It’s rare that you have a family member who has a birthday on Boxing Day, but even rarer when you have two! This is the unusual circumstance that has given my family a second Christmas Day, where we celebrate with my Dad’s side of the family on Boxing Day; a nice contrast to spending the main event with my Mum’s side. The two birthdays are my gran and one of my cousins, and the day involves us all journeying down to my gran’s to have a good catch up. With most cousins around my age, it’s interesting hearing how the year has treated them.

We’ve been doing it as long as I can remember, only changing location and number of family members present each year; we’re a pretty diverse group, so it always makes for an interesting occasion. It’s usually short and sweet, with a few final presents thrown in for good measure, which I think fits in nicely with Boxing Day’s early tradition of giving boxes to the poor; I’m not saying my family are poor for one second, but I can’t imagine spending it any other way.

You may find this surprising, especially considering that for many, it’s just another day; maybe a time to indulge in the sales or go on a family outing. Some European countries hold it as a second Christmas Day though, while Catholics hold it as St. Stephen’s Day, which commemorates the first Christian martyr. Many sporting organizations, such as the Premier League, even hold a full day calendar to entice fans along, and I always find my dad salivating over the listings.

These circumstances can affect my family too; with so many places now open on Boxing Day, occasionally a few of us have to work, but at the same time we never like to let my grandmother down. After all, Boxing Day is much less defined, which I think you need after the big day itself- the downside to so many rigid conventions is that it can be stressful making sure they are all met. Even though it gets harder each year to maintain the tradition, I’m still incredibly grateful to be part of the festivities. It’s still a public holiday after all, so I would stress you make the most of it too.

The Fourth Blog Of Christmas: The Christmas Jumper Curiosity

me Christmas jumper

I never imagined that the festive season would ever be defined by a fashion trend, but then I never imagined a fashion trend like a Christmas jumper. No matter how serious someone’s demeanour may usually be, you cannot help but smile at the sight of a festive garment. I was trying out a new local micro-pub the other night, when half a dozen jolly fellows bundled in, all adorning bright bold knitwear with all kinds of winter characters bursting out of them. Heads turned, eyebrows raised, but ultimately the level of merriment was raised beyond that of just the alcohol levels.

I’m an old hand at this fashion trend; four years ago, determined to make the most of my first festive season at University, I chose myself a Christmas jumper. Mine’s considerably neutral compared to the majority you see; it’s not overly bright or with any weird knobbly bits or flashing lights. It’s just navy with hints of red and reindeer and snowflake patterns. Dare I say it, it’s one you would consider wearing on a regular basis throughout December, rather than just as a gimmick for the office party. When I casually bought it three years ago, I had no idea of the phenomenon it would soon become.

Every shop has them too, in every design possible; from the more conventional patterns to even one of a Great White Shark in a Santa hat, and festive parodies of popular culture (how about Drake’s “Hotline Bling” poses in knitted form?). It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by choice, although the other way to look at it is that finding one will never be a difficult task. There’s even a Christmas Jumper Day dedicated to raising money for charity through wearing the ridiculous garment. More than anything, it has to be one of the most unusual fashion trends to have sprung up in living memory.

It doesn’t rely on how the wearer looks, nor is it remotely concerned with achieving some degree of sexiness. Its only purpose is to make the wearer look like a festive numpty, and put a smile on the face of everyone around them. It yells peace and goodwill to all, and very loudly if you buy one of the more outrageous designs. Of course, I have met a few sceptics in the past, but incredibly these are now in a very small minority. Christmas cynics are being rejected for more Christmas cheer, something I wholeheartedly support, with some of my friends even buying multiple jumpers for the festive season.

While part of me wants to indulge further, I admit I feel to confined by the conventions of Christmas, which restrict wearing the jumper to one month a year. I say have one, but make it your own! Have one that is not only a guilty pleasure, but one you lament having to lock away after New Year’s Day. Have one for the days browsing the Christmas markets, or wobbling around the ice skating rinks, or whatever defines your Christmas period. Have one that captures your personality. Embrace the ridiculous nature of the garment; if nothing, it’ll put a smile on your face whenever you catch yourself in the mirror.

The Third Blog of Christmas: Dreaming Of A White Christmas?

White Christmas3

What does a smattering of snowflakes in the air mean to you? A vivid nostalgia for the festive season you used to know? Or perhaps the nightmare of every commuter? It’s very easy and incredibly optimistic to dream of a White Christmas, but a thick layer of snow flies in the face of order, as if this festive season wasn’t stressful enough. Let even a few snowflakes fall in this country and everything falls into chaos; schools close, work is called off and any form of travel is deemed impossible (unless undertaken in wellies and at a snail’s pace.

Maybe people just really want a day off. I remember being thrilled as a teenager if I woke up to see my garden blanketed by snow, and my school’s website was adorned with a “closed due to weather” warning covering every corner. For me, that roughly translated to “hey, take a day off to build a snowman, have a snowball fight with your sister and go sledging down East Court, because snowfall trumps education.” But for many of us, our first reaction is not awe at the glistening blizzard before us, but dismay at picturing the inevitable delays.

Is that a little bit sad, or just realistic? I reckon it’s both. If I’m honest myself, I would detest a White Christmas. On the big day itself, my family makes the pilgrimage to my aunt’s for Christmas dinner in a neighbouring village. It’s no more than 15 minutes in normal weather, but traversing up and over hills with a thick layer of snow in our way would prove impossible. Then you have the crowds who hastily travel home on Christmas Eve, wringing their hands at the sight of train delays or accidents on the motorway; a White Christmas just isn’t practical in 2015.

Maybe a White Boxing Day would be more practical, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it. Of course, everyone wants a picture perfect scene at Christmas, like the ones you see on the big screen. But when you see their faces mesmerized as dots of artificial white blobs descend on their set, you don’t hear their panicked thoughts of how on earth will they reach Great Auntie May to indulge in her brussel sprouts?Real life may not be as scenic, but if you put the effort in it can be just as memorable. I’m happy just imagining a White Christmas, because I think reality just wouldn’t be as joyful, no matter how pretty a Winter Wonderland scene is.