Cat lover and MA graduate Yonna Kuipers talks all stuff Christmas: the jolly, the good and the bad.
As the end of the year gathers my excitement rises tenfold. The days are getting shorter, my sweater collection is growing, and Michael Bublé is fully defrosted. This can only mean one thing: it’s Christmas time.
The end of the year has always brought me much joy. Fall is my favorite season, my birthday is in November, and there’s Christmas to top it all off. I don’t know exactly when my obsession with Christmas started, but probably around the time my mother decided to hang the Christmas tree from the ceiling so that the cats wouldn’t ruin it… right after I stopped pretending to believe in Sinterklaas so I wouldn’t miss out on the presents. I digress.
Christmas is by far my favorite time of the year. There is a reason Andy Williams calls it ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ and it isn’t just because you get some presents at the end of it. There’s friends, food, decorations, music, movies, snow, ice skating, open fires, getting dressed up, or getting to spend whole days in your (fleece) pajamas. Winter is a time to make the most of being indoors before bundling up and traversing the freezing, slippery outside. Bundled up in my fleece pyjama with a cat in my lap, surrounded by twinkly lights, a Christmas tree, family, and snacks is just about the best scenario I can think of any given day of the year December. This month is the ultimate self-care month if you really think about it. Everything about winter gives you the excuse to wrap up in a blanket with a book or your Netflix queue and lock out the outside world. No one’s going to stop you from burrito-ing yourself under the guise of Christmas. But it’s not really the season until the lights are hung and twinkling.
Recently, some studies have surfaced saying that people who decorate their homes for Christmas are happier and you know what, I honestly 100% believe that. There’s nothing quite like putting on a good Christmas Spotify playlist, dragging out all of your decorations, and going to town on your living room. Decorating our living room fills me with nostalgia and a happiness unparalleled by everything in my ASOS wishlist going on sale. Psychoanalyst Steven McKeown explains that Christmas decorations are kind of a gateway to those memories and by putting them up early extends that excitement. So before you judge me for listening to Christmas songs in September, or judge your friend for decorating their home before December, ask yourself why you want to see the world burn.
I get it, if your life isn’t a romantic comedy then winter can seem quite bleak: wet shoes, wet socks, cold hands, SAD, and slippery roads. It’s dark when you wake up and starts getting dark right after lunch. It’s hard enough to get out of bed, let alone try to stay upright outside if we’ve been (un)lucky enough to get snow: winter is a nightmare.
When Eden asked me to write this article I kind of felt like a fraud, because while it is true that I live for Christmas decor, buying and wrapping presents, and gorging myself on Christmas food, I don’t really care for the days themselves. To be really honest I could do without them all together. Give me all the sentiment, but leave the stress and consumerism at the door. I’ve seen people less stressed out before their all nighter than for Christmas shopping and that is saying something. There’s the philosophy of “you get what you make of it”, but that doesn’t really go for a holiday that is shoved down our throats from October onwards. When expectations are so high for the perfect dinner or the perfect present, that stress and anxiety is at an all time high: people are happier the day after Christmas than on the days themselves. Family relations are tense, conflicting political philosophies are laid bare for you to grin through. You have this whole month of lavishing in the Christmas spirit and then it’s just a tad disappointing, isn’t it? It’s certainly exhausting as hell.
But you know what, it’s alright if Christmas doesn’t match your nostalgic expectations, because you’ve had a whole month of little things that brought you joy. December isn’t all bleak. Streets are decorated with beautiful twinkly lights, the heating is on, it’s hot chocolate season, and if you push aside the right amount of children your local ice skating rink is a fun place to spend your evening. Maybe Christmas isn’t what you wanted it to be, but that doesn’t have to ruin the whole month for you. You’re going to get fed up with hearing George Michael cry about how shitty last Christmas was, and you’re going to get annoyed at family members you’re forced to play board games with. Or people’s IG photos, or children (if that isn’t a year round thing for you), or the weather, or the pine needles sticking into your socks.
There’s a whole lot of ugliness surrounding Christmas, but there’s a whole lot of beautiful things that make up for it. So shove aside the commercialism, embrace the inevitability of things going wrong, and dedicate time to what makes you feel fuzzy inside. Take it from a millennial who hates Christmas but loves it all the same: it’s complicated and that’s okay.
P.S. If you are interested in how often the word ‘Christmas’ was mentioned in this 800 word article… it’s 22.
By Yonna Kuipers