We all remember Christmas as a kid, right?
Leaving the Argos catalogue open in the middle of the floor, filled with carefully placed red rings around the toys you wanted, positioned specifically for your parent to trip over. Spending the last week of school cutting snowflakes out of waste paper and playing Connect 4. Stealing the posh biscuits your mum bought for “visitors only”.
They were good times.
But getting older, moving through education and getting jobs, the Christmas season seems less a time of peace, and more a time of absolute chaos.
The students among us right now will be frantically preparing for January exams and coursework submissions, maybe considering taking actual Christmas Day off to eat a little turkey with the family, before getting back to the relentless analysis of “why you did what you did”.
And for those of us who’ve come through this and are now living the dream of working in the creative sector? This is potentially the busiest time of year. Everyone else wants the gigs, shows and performances that we provide, brands unleash their Christmas campaigns that we’ll design, and every staff Christmas party around the country has a photographer, DJ and waitress really wishing it wasn’t Christmas every day.
And who can blame them? Amongst all the additional work, social commitments, present buying and expectation to be jolly all month long, Christmas can be straight-up exhausting. What happened to that childhood magic of Disney Channel special episodes (Recess anyone?) and special Rudolph pyjamas you only wore on Christmas Eve?
Is the magic of Christmas really lost after your 18th birthday, or does it simply take on a new form in adulthood? Is it found in new places, like suddenly noticing the Christmas lights have gone up whilst on your late lunch dash to Pret, thinking how pretty they look, and humbly appreciating the person who put them there. Is it watching the baby of the family bypass all the expensive, educational presents they’ve been bought, instead laughing with glee as they roll around in the shiny wrapping paper? Or having your elderly relative saying something incredibly inappropriate around the dinner table, but then everyone exploding in laughter because it was actually, really funny.
Everyone celebrates the festive season in a way that is personal to them, and we all have specific childhood Christmas memories that we cherish. But as we move further into adulthood, I think the magic of Christmas lies in mixing those old customs with the creation of your own personal, new traditions. Buying hilarious secret Santa presents for your best friends, having a new tree ornament each year with your significant other, or coffee and Christmas market dates with your mum (to make up for all the biscuits you stole as a child, obviously).
Yes, Christmas as an adult is manic. It’s loud and garish and in your face. It costs a fortune. It’s bad for your digestive system and can leave you an exhausted, quivering mess by January 2nd. But there is still magic to be found. And if you look just a little harder, you might find it. Right there in the dark corner of the kitchen.
Your mum’s biscuit tin.