I’m twenty one. I’ve done my fair share of believing in Santa and do enjoy the wonderful festivities that arise when it gets nearer to Christmas. But, this year, I’m simply not feeling it. (I don’t think the week I spent trekking in the desert really helped!)
I’ve tried. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to the German Market’s in Leeds (twice), and I even came back to Bath just in time to see the Christmas Market’s up and hustling with crowds of eager shoppers. And I’ve attempted several excursions into torrents of other desperate shoppers to finally get some presents.
But somewhere along the way, I’ve found it’s lost it’s spark.
There used to be something so magical about it all.
When we were younger, my siblings and I used to buy all our gifts from the school Christmas fayre. We’d have a pocket full of loose change and be given the freedom of walking alone around the school hall for half an hour, going to every stall. I’d spend ages deliberating over what I thought my family would really want and put lots of effort into picking the presents for them, looking forward to seeing the excitement on their faces when they opened them. I always thought it was something they would really want and I’d have picked it for a reason. I’d get home and hide them straight away (probably in a really obvious place) and ask Mum for some wrapping paper so I could put them out under the tree in the lounge.
That magic just doesn’t happen anymore.
I don’t like Christmas shopping – I feel like it’s turned into a commercial holiday where you get bashed around and stressed out because everyone’s hard to buy for and already have everything they want. And with the added stress of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I question if the materialistic takeover is actually worth the effort.
I fear that I’m sounding old and cynical but it’s just a shame to see how much my perspective on it all has shifted.
Last Christmas, I decided I wasn’t going to do big presents. I’m the youngest of three and we all have what we need. If there’s something we want, we’re all old enough to go out ourselves and buy it. I limited myself on how much I was going to spend, partly because I was a student, but also because I didn’t want to get trapped into the saga of meaningless gifts.
Take my mum, for instance. A woman who has everything. What do you get for your mum? She has jewellery, candles, bath sets. She doesn’t want things. She’s said previously that she’d like to be given the gift of time with her, but I don’t think I’d ever thought about it properly. Instead I’d go for a photo frame or scented candle.
But last year, I decided to write her a letter instead of buying her something that I knew she would neither want, nor need.
We have a tradition in our family where ever since we were little, Emily and I have received a bauble every year for Christmas from my Dad’s Aunt and Uncle. And Jonathan would get collectable stamps. This went on until I was eighteen. It was a really lovely tradition and I used to love them arriving in the post and unwrapping beautiful glass, ornate baubles to add to the tree each year. It is definitely something I’d like to continue for my children.
Mum would joke that one day, when we left home, she’d have no baubles on the tree. Now, wherever I go, I bring a bauble back for her so she has her own collection.
As well as the letters, I bought her a small glass heart decoration for the tree.
In the main letter I expressed my thoughts about the year that had just gone. I explained what I enjoyed, what I didn’t enjoy. I shared some of my challenges, some of my accomplishments, and my hopes for the coming year.
Along with the main letter, I included six smaller envelopes. One for every other month after Christmas. These included things I’d like us to do together that month or ideas of ways to spend time together.
Although we weren’t able to realistically live up to all of them, with me being away at University for most of the year, she really appreciated the idea and the thought behind it and I hope it starts another tradition and allows us to spend more time together.
We get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life, buying excessive amounts of food we wouldn’t usually eat, spending hundreds of pounds on gifts people might not ever use, and forget to actually take the time to appreciate the people around us.
This year, it was suggested that instead of buying each other presents, we should all just put the money towards flights for a family holiday. Something we haven’t actually had chance to do in years.
Although I don’t think that’s the plan this year, I like the idea of it, and hope that maybe next year we might decide to jet off somewhere nice together.
It would be a nice excuse to steer clear of the pedestrian traffic, and chaotic few weeks that December brings.