I feel like I am a child again, it’s Christmas morning and I am awake early. Some years ago if I was awake before my parents (which in most cases I was… by some hours), I would open a small selection of gifts that would have been left at the foot of my bed. There’d always be a book, some chocolate coins (which I would immediately start eating), usually an orange (usually left until after dinner) and a card from my parents. Now as I reach my mid-thirties and having travelled back to the UK to stay with my family during the festive season, I don’t wake up to find gifts at the foot of my bed but those memories as a child remain firmly with me, and the early start is more to do with jet lag.
Growing up, Christmas was run like a well-oiled machine. In my much younger years, the festivities were held at my grandparents where everyone would contribute to the dinner table. My mum would make the starters of smoked salmon and prawn cocktail, my Nan would do the turkey, the world’s best gravy and an awesome apple pie, whilst my uncle and aunts would generally sort the trimmings and bring the booze. As my grandparents got older, Christmas went on tour and my mum began to hold it at our house with pretty much the same format as above. Selfishly, this suited me fine, as hell, it meant that I got to play with the gifts that I had been given, which as a young teen was vital to my general satisfaction with the day. As the years rolled on, my mum’s younger sister took over the reins of delivering Christmas so we would travel the hour or so journey to her house where we were greeted once again with an amazing feast.
Then for two years I didn’t make it back home. In 2012, I moved abroad for work and although I returned for the first year the two years subsequently (2013-2014), I entertained myself with what Christmas could offer me outside of the UK.
Turns out, I deeply missed Christmas with the family.
Both years out of the UK were also spent with my ex-boyfriend, which added a degree of romance to the festive period but I couldn’t quite get over the feeling that I was missing out somehow. I wanted to be there sat at the table with my parents, brother and relatives. I wanted to sit around the tree taking turns to open gifts. Perhaps my ‘missing’ of Christmas with family whilst I was away stemmed from the fact that in part, Christmas allows me to regress to a child-like state in some ways. The traditions are cut and dry to a large extent and that brings familiarity and comfort.
So for the past two years, I have travelled back to the UK to spend Christmas with my family and also importantly catch up amazing friends. And it’s been fucking awesome.