Whilst writing numerous articles and posts about the festive season, I got transported back to my childhood, my teenage years and my early twenties. Searching for the magical feelings and the buzz that only Christmas can give, I remember snippets from my consciousness throughout the years.
As a child, I often dressed up as an angel, put on my pointe ballet shoes, pushed the furniture to the sides of my grandmother’s lounge and danced to Christmas tunes for hours, pretending I could fly and I was one of Santa’s little helpers once again.
I also recall those early afternoons when I returned from school all those many Decembers, being greeted by the rich and buttery smell of home made Christmas biscuits, which my mother baked every year. I loved sitting with her at the dining table of an evening, sticking thin shortbread together with jam and decorating it later with chocolate and sprinkles.
The sharp and refreshing smell of the handwrought advent wreath filled the house with a festive scent, and I relished in the Sunday evenings when we turned out all the lights and sat by candle light, singing Christmas songs. The first frosts brought a promise of snow and ice, and when the cold air pinched my cheeks as we strolled around the Christmas market with all its festive lights and sweet aromas of sugared almonds, Lebkuchen and roasted chestnuts, there was nothing inside me that doubted for one moment, that the magic of the festive season was not real.
Getting the Christmas decorations from the attic was highly anticipated, as was the delivery of the Christmas tree, which had to camp on our balcony to stay fresh until Christmas Eve, when we finally brought it inside and decorated it.
As I got older and suffered from my mental health issues, Christmas lost its appeal and I spent one Christmas Eve with a group of friends, celebrating friendship and life, rebelling against our families that were left celebrating without us.
And two years later, I spent Christmas by myself in a foreign country, away from anyone close to me. I slept in, I watched my favourite films in bed, I ate chocolate and went for a frosty run. I wasn’t sad or lonely. I felt at ease and happy in my own company. The silence around me was a gift and I felt christmassy despite being alone.
The important lesson I learnt from my mental trip to the past is, that the magic didn’t come from materialistic things, presents or expensive stuff. The magic of Christmas has always been in the feeling, the anticipation and the pure joy of being with people I love, even if the only person around was me. When I take a moment to reflect on what makes my Christmasses special, I never think of getting lots of gifts. Of course, it’s nice to get a thoughtful present and buy someone that thoughtful something. But, when I mull over what I look forward to most every December, then it’s the twinkly lights, the decorations, the festive food and drink, the sparkle and the excitement leading up to 25th of December. I indulge in two weeks off with my family, the films and hot chocolates after long cold winter walks and the fact that time doesn’t exist in the twilight zone of Christmas and New Year.
Christmas is a feeling, not a flurry of gifts and materialistic things. I will forever be its greatest fan and look forward to it like a giddy little kid. And the knowledge that all this love comes from the heart and not my bank account makes it even more special.