Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Some belated thoughts on Christmas



I know that plenty of people want to just to get Christmas over with when it rears its over-decorated head every year. It's easy so stress yourself out as you untangle the decorations, cursing as you stand on spikey star-shaped Christmas lights (even worse than Lego); make the food; hunt for a gift for your brother's boyfriend's half-sister's father; cry in frustration as you try to master the art of curling ribbons; plan, plan, plan and plan for things you barely have time for; and try not to pull out your own hair as you are assaulted by horrendous festive songs in the supermarket when you are just trying to buy some organic carrots in peace (to quote my sister Jazz: "I'm not sure if it's singing or some kind of anti-ear campaign.")

...Okay, so as you can tell from my cynical over-exaggerations, I'm not a fan of Christmas. Alright, no, that's not true; I'm not a fan of the consumerism and expectations that come hand-in-hand with occasions such as Christmas (or the songs - seriously, they need to go).

There are so many aspects of Christmas that I enjoy: I do appreciate some of the decorations because I have an obsession with all things sparkly, I love that it brings people a bit closer - be it family or simply the stranger you smile at and say "Merry Christmas" as you walk past each other in a park, I love the word 'festive', I like food, I like chocolate, I love family and laughing and togetherness. It can be so full of wonder and love, sometimes it's the only time some people get to see their children, or the only time they get to relax and have a good time. I spent my Christmas in Brisbane, and I really enjoyed just walking around a park in West End and seeing people celebrating in their own ways. I love it when it means something; I like the things about Christmas that we preach so thoughtlessly and often that it's easy to forget what it should really be all about.

My favourite part is the memories from childhood. I feel a little bit closer to the magic and whimsy of being a kid and having that unbelievable excitement when waking up on Christmas morning or choosing the one present we were allowed to unwrap on Christmas Eve. The images are foggy but the feeling is still recalled easily, as is the smell of pine needles and tinsel. They evoke the same beautiful nostalgia I get when I reread my favourite children's books, climb trees or make forts. Later memories are still smiled over: the holiday we spent eating chocolate balls in the air-conditioning as we watched our favourite comedies, or the time my parents were concerned because I laughed for 10 whole minutes at a Christmas tree that my dad had made by sticking a Casuarina branch in a pot of pebbles and zip-tying a star-shaped cactus to the top - small memories that mean a great deal to an individual.

For me, this was the first Christmas in a long time that didn't induce anxiety as early as October.Why was this year different? The answer is simple: my family and I all agreed to not buy each other presents this time. The decision saved not only a lot of money, but saved us all huge amounts of stress. For many, it seems, the holiday can feel more obligatory than exciting.

Why do days like Xmas and Valentine's Day have to be so much about presents and stressing over making everything appear perfect?

I love giving gifts, but why should we have to have a set day to give them? A set day to appreciate our loved ones, to celebrate, and to remember to have a good time? I suppose it sometimes is needed as a reminder. I much prefer the idea of the spontaneity and special-ness of giving someone a gift just because you feel like it, or because you found something and thought of them. It can be hard to find the perfect present when you're stressfully searching for them along with one for everyone else. But of course, that's just how I feel about it and it's all different for everyone.

...Anyway, I think that's all that my point was, but I can't really remember for sure because once again I'm writing a rushed post while tired (as was the case in my previous post - SO sorry for the amount of times I said 'quite' and all the other awkward things).

I hope your year was wonderful and so was Christmas day, whether you celebrate it, something different, or nothing at all, and I hope that 2015 (and all those to come after) is fantastic for all of us.

Happy New Year *throws biodegradable confetti*.