You’re surrounded by decorations, there’s a tree adorned with light, an advent calendar in front of you, rows of cards on display – actually just the one this year (are cards being phased OUT?) – Mariah’s on the radio and a family member is withdrawing sausages from the oven. The ingredients for Christmas are right there in front of you. You can see them, you can smell them. And yet...
You just don’t feel Christmassy.
Every December, we embark on our end of year quest to find it: the feeling of Christmassy. It’s a genuinely accepted term – Cambridge Dictionary cites it as ‘typical of Christmas’ or ‘happy that it’s Christmas’ – but what makes us enter into this excitable state is different for each of us. And as the years go by, I have found it ever harder to find.
Question: where did Christmassy go?
More important question: how can we get it back?
I’ve put a lot of thought into this. And I’ve asked a lot of people, about what Christmassy feels like to them, and what – exactly – makes them feel it. This is why I felt confident enough to declare above (like it’s the law) that the feeling of Christmassy is different for everyone. One person I spoke to, for instance, said they only felt Christmassy out of London. Another said, it’s something they have only felt in childhood. A third said they only felt Christmassy today, on Christmas Eve, eagerly anticipating TOMORROW...
I think there are a number of factors that can instigate that Christmassy feeling. They are as follows...
We Brits love our unpredictable weather – regardless of what we say – and I believe that weather is one of the most important pointers on the Christmassy barometer. It has to be cold. HAS to be. Us Brits aren’t able to feel Christmassy in hot climes. We need the cold, we want the cold, we must have the cold...
Coldness means snuggling up indoors next to that warm fire/radiator. Cold outside means we feel like eating that gigantic turkey roast and curling up in a ball on the sofa afterwards to settle into the annual family viewing of It’s A Wonderful Life. Cold outside has a magic of it’s own. Because when it’s really, really cold, there is the promise of snow. We all dream of a White Christmas but very few of us get to experience it. Whether snow will come or not gives us adults the excitement (ergo, Christmassyness) we formerly experienced as children, awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas.
The weather, the cold weather, is a very important component of feeling Christmassy. So if you don’t feel Christmassy yet, it’s possible it’s because it’s not cold enough (well, in some parts of the country at least). Wear one less layer of clothing. And no socks. Brrrrrrr.
A rather depressing thought I’ve had about feeling Christmassy is that it might not be possible in adulthood. As a child, like many of us, I was sick with excitement on Christmas Eve. Sick! Yes, it was almost unbearable. I would lie awake on the night, terrified I wouldn’t get to sleep, because unlike other children, I didn’t want to see Father Christmas. That was because if I did see him, I’d have to pretend I was asleep so he’d give me my stocking. But he’d know I was pretending, and he’d go away, and he wouldn’t come back...
I haven’t been as excited for Christmas since. And part of me is worried I never will be again. Having children around at Christmas undoubtedly reignites the magic and that uncontainable excitement. because it helps to unlock our own childhood memories of it. If there are children in attendance at your Christmas, brilliant, talk yourself back into that hyped enthusiasm with them. And even if there aren’t, try to do it anyway by yourself.
And I mean REALLY try...
Put those mince pies and carrots out and genuinely let yourself believe they will get eaten by a portly sleigh-rider and some hungry reindeer. Genuinely let yourself get excited for those presents under the tree – even if you only have one, and you know it’s hand soap. Because, well, who doesn’t need hand soap in their lives?!
The Thrill Of Giving
If you’re not the sort of person who gets enthused at receiving presents then let yourself get so by giving them. I think it’s possible to feel Christmassy – ergo INCREDIBLY EXCITED – at the very idea of giving someone something you know they’ll love.
If you haven’t made all that much effort on the present front so far this year, dear reader, there’s still time.
Wait For The Day
Many of the people I spoke to said it was only on the actual day that they came to feel Christmassy. This might be to do with finally being surrounded by family and familiarity, the thrill of the feast, and reenacting those comforting Christmas traditions. Or it might be that we’re so busy working in the run up to the holiday, we simply don’t have time to think about it until, so suddenly, it’s there. If you’re not at peak Christmassy yet, worry not, tomorrow is a-coming...
Christmas in our multi-cultural society has come to be a holiday period for people of many faiths, but the original point of it was obviously to celebrate the birth of Christ. As children, the Christians among us would have starred in nativity plays and, up until we left school, spent most of December rehearsing carols over and over – and over – again for that end of term concert for the parents. This build up was hugely important in boosting the Christmassy spirit. So if you’re not quite feeling it yet, get out that hymn sheet and start singing from it.
I hope the above has given those searching for Christmassy some useful last minute pointers. And I hope that tonight you will all be with your family and/or friends having a thoroughly wonderfully Christmassy time.*
A very Happy Christmas to all Grazia readers!
*If, so very sadly, Christmas is not such a happy time of year for you, there are people who can help.