On Being Happy: Christmas

Whenever I try to think of times that I’m happiest, a memory from a Christmas past always comes to mind. There’s just something about Christmas that I, along with many of the world’s population, have always loved. When I was a kid it was all about the magic of Santa and his reindeer, leaving out milk and cookies in the hopes that he’d leave lots of presents. (Apart from that one year my Dad told me to leave out a glass of wine, and I wasn’t at all suspicious).

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Nowadays I know that really it’s my parents who put the presents under the tree, but the magic is still there. When I was younger I was mainly excited about what I was going to get, wondering what presents Santa had ticked off my list and what surprises there were going to be, but these days I seem to find just as much joy, if not more, in giving presents to others and seeing them open them. Now that I actually earn some money, I’m able to buy some better presents than I’ve been able to in the past (the garden centre around the corner from the house used to be where most of the christmas shopping was done in my early years).

And although Christmas Day is where it all happens, it’s the build up that really gives me a spike in happiness. Yes, work now has the Christmas hours in place and I very nearly had to work Christmas Eve, but nothing beats that first chocolate from the advent calendar, or when you start playing Christmas music. Before December, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas displays or music – once Halloween has passed, it’s sort of alright, but come December everything Christmas is fair game.

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The first piece of Christmas cake, the first mince pie, present wrapping, Christmas parties, decorations, putting up the tree – everything is just filled with so much joy (apart from the last minute shoppers who plague our stores and near-attack retail staff in their panicked frenzy of being unprepared despite the fact that Christmas is on the same day every year). Once again the videos of cats attacking Christmas trees appear, and we stuff our faces with copious amounts of food. I normally start off pretty blasé about it, but then I realise it’s November and I’ve wrapped all my presents and watched Elf three times.

Yet it’s not happy for everyone. For many people Christmas isn’t a time of happiness and love, to which I try to check my privilege and remember everyone else at this time of year. And of course there are changes every year – like the fact that this is the first Christmas we’ll have without my Grandma and, although we’re all together and will undoubtedly have a lovely holiday, it’s tough going into it with that absence.

It’s a time of giving, a time of family, a time of happiness. One that I look forward to every year and one that I grieve every time we have to take the lights down. So, wherever you are and whoever you might be, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas or, if you don’t celebrate it, a lovely holiday and New Year.

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