By Abby Boak
My partner and I didn’t get each other presents this year for Christmas. Not. One. Thing.
We didn’t see family or have any guests round. There were no crackers bought, no table laid, and not a mince pie in sight.
And this year was my best Christmas ever that I can remember.
Christmas has been a hotchpotch of traditions since I left home 15 years ago, usually involving travelling to another country to be with family we don’t see often and moulding our Christmas tradition to whatever theirs might be. This has included eating oysters, opening presents on the 24th (sacrilege!), putting straw under the table, stomaching chestnut puree and everyone, like it or not, being obliged to play overly competitive family ‘games’. Whilst it’s always a relatively pleasant affair, it’s never quite been right, like somehow the essence of Christmas was missing. For me, at least, it always seemed a little over bearing, a little bit of an anti-climax, a bit too much packaging and not enough bumph, but then I guess it’s never really possible to live up to the expectations of such a day, particularly if your expectations are not the same as your hosts’.
So this year we decided to switch off from expectations and do Christmas in our own way.
Throughout the year there is pressure on everyone, all the time, from every direction to do, be or say the right thing, to be this incredibly productive, empathetic, well-rounded, imaginative, creative and HUGELY humorous human being who contributes to society in some incredible way, both in work and in their spare time, whilst saving the world and being a wonderful parent/friend/partner/ sibling etc, etc…. ENOUGH, I SAY! Christmas is a time to relax, get away from daily pressures, indulge and have fun with good company.
Christmas morning started late… and hazy… presents were opened in a random order, which meant each and every one was opened at the right time for the recipient and therefore truly appreciated. We were VERY clear with our family – we didn’t really want gifts AT ALL. And if they did get us something, it must be consumable in some way; mostly we received things to eat, quaff, wear or burn, and my favourite part of this was that we had a mere 5p carrier bag worth of recycling as waste.
The Christmas meal was decided upon by us each saying what we most wanted to eat. It just so happened that in discussing it, we all agreed on the same thing, which also happened to be a vegan roast dinner, but we could well have gone for pizza and chips, Pot Noodles or three separate meals entirely.
We each did our own thing during the day; the small human ate chocolate and watched films for most of it, the man drank rum and watched different films, I got tarted up and danced around the kitchen. We were ALL happy. Sometimes we came together, and sometimes we drifted apart, but we all enjoyed the organic nature of letting a day unfold in whatever way we wanted.
At no point did anyone wish for something they didn’t have, or wish there was more – it really was enough, not frugal, not overboard, but sufficient. More than sufficient. And I think our Christmas traditions will be sized XS from here on in.