Why has my festive feeling slowly disappeared?
Now the title of this post might make it seem that I’m being a humbug, a Scrooge type character but in real life, that just isn’t the case. Christmas is a magical time of year and as far back as I can remember, the excitement started as soon as Halloween had passed. I would often count the days until I could decorate my bedroom, help my mum buy a Christmas tree and longed to here Christmas music coming from the shops in town; something has changed in me and I’m not that sure I like it.
This Christmas I got to see my Step-Daughter wake up, discover Santa had been and then tear into her pile of presents in a manner that I would have been proud of as a 5 year old back in 1989; it left me feeling warm and particularly fuzzy inside seeing the joy radiate off her. She was having the Christmas I had had many years ago and thankfully, she has many more to come. However, this post isn’t about Christmas day, it’s about the time running up to the 25th, when as a child I would be getting more and more excited, to the point of explosion.
I have no doubt that many people share my opinion when I talk about supermarkets and how early Christmas stock is put out now. Mid October (sometimes earlier, I saw you Tesco) and the shelves are already loaded with Christmas decorations or sweet treats that shouldn’t see the light of day until Halloween has passed. As a person who loves Christmas, this should be like an early present but no, the earlier the products are out the less magic there is closer to the day.
How about the truly disgusting act of what we call a ‘Boxing Day Sale’? You pay your money for a pile of presents across your family to find on the 20th December, Christmas has been removed from shops and instead Sale banners attached to everything? How is it fair that people who want to prepare and buy nice things get punished for doing so? It’s forced upon us earlier and earlier yet it never lasts to Christmas itself? I worked in Woolworths back in the year 2000 and 2002, we would convert the store to a ‘New Years Sale’ often working till 1am Christmas Day, just to ensure the store was ready for opening on the 27th. This felt considerably fairer to the shoppers and often didn’t include the products we’d been selling on the lead up to Christmas.
The above would make you think ‘surely that’s enough to make anyone lose the magic of Christmas’ but no, not me. It makes me angry, yes. It makes me a little sad, also yes. But, I still adore Christmas so the question still remains, why have I lost that festive feeling? The answer (I’m sure you will be pleased to hear) lies in nostalgia and to adequately explain it, I need to look at a few key memories and experiences from my past.
As a child living in the 80s and 90s, I still remember when you couldn’t go shopping on a Sunday. Sunday trading laws existed that prevented pretty much anyone but car shops or newsagents from opening meaning families were left having to find entertainment for their family. This changed around the Christmas period when shops were allowed to open on a Sunday for a very limited amount of time and it’s this, that used to excite a teenage me. The money I had saved in a big pot would be converted to coins and notes by the parents, a long walk in to town and then the opportunity to buy presents for the people I loved; it was exhilarating. Lynx sets for my brothers, chocolates of a variety for Mum, Dad, Nan & Grampa and my Aunt, all purchased from Boots, Woolworths and Safeway. One particular year I remember buying my Mum a fan heater from Argos for the Kitchen (classy) because she’d made a comment to my dad about being cold in there. There was an excitement that filled me those days, I felt responsible and had the joy of spending hard earned money on these small items.
Another memory that sits vividly in my mind is the last day of term before Christmas break. It had snowed and was bitterly cold, our coach had arrived on time at school(a minor miracle in itself) and I went home with two presents from my best friends of the time. A selection of Chocolate and Bubble bath that turned the bath blood red were the presents and I busied myself unwrapping them as I watched ‘The Simpsons roasting on an open fire’ on BBC 2. This was peek excitement as Christmas was literally around the corner.
These things still happen, I spend my hard earned money on presents but the responsibility somewhat diminishes. Everyone I know and buy for (excluding the SD) can buy what they want already. Lists come and go and often then lack luster thought put in to them is because genuinely, most people don’t want for much anymore. Enjoying a Christmas Special helps retain some festive joy but comparing old versus newer shows just highlights the changes in what people consider funny or acceptable now.
My biggest realization through all of this was how television played a key part in my development of festive feelings. From young Tom watching the Blue Peter 4 part Christmas specials including a mini Pantomime through to the teenage me watching Noels House Party and more teenage orientated shows, these shows helped me get excited for Christmas; Christmas Channel Idents being played between every show, non-stop Christmas themed versions of shows I loved – they all got me more and more excited.
Television seems to have lost the magic, not just at the festive period but during the year also. In the past year I’ve probably watched no more than 48 hours worth of content, now preferring Netflix, Prime and in particular, YouTube. Next year I shall be investing time in to making Christmas playlists of old shows and idents and will see what sort of magical spell they can lay on me once again. I know I won’t get the same magic I did as a child but maybe, just maybe I can find a little of young me once again.