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Julia Hardy on Christmas

A time of good will, of being kind to people, of the giving of presents and the receiving of criticisms from family members that stab you like tiny daggers in your heart even though ‘they’re just joking.’

If you’re still one of those folks who doesn’t ‘do their own Christmas’ just yet, a sense of dread I’m sure is bubbling up inside as you contemplate going back to your family home to spend some very intensive days with people you don’t see all that often. In a situation that seems a bit like being trapped in a nuclear bunker (no natural light, lots of sitting around doing not much, being annoyed at small children being too loud and arguments over food ‘rationing.’)

At the Hardy home we always argued over two things at Xmas.

1 – Yorkshire puddings – there were never enough – and this was never forwarded as a suggested improvement to make more next year. We would just make the same uneven amount again. And argue again.

2 – My mum’s chocolate orange mousse with Cointreau. A dish she only ever made at Christmas plus she never made enough. (I mean if you’re using a dessert ramekin and not a bowl to serve then you’ve already lost that argument.)

Why did she only make it once a year? It created a perfect storm for yuletide mayhem as the limited edition dessert dropped we rampaged on the fridge/each other just to get an extra taste. Don’t judge, but our entire family has licked out the inside of our dessert bowls more times than I care to admit to. We would spend the afternoon with comedic chocolate moustaches and beards as we drifted into a sugary slumber watching Roger Moore raise his eyebrows in a hypnotic fashion.

The one saving grace of this festive angst was the fact that if your family had all passed out on the couch you could sneak off (finally) and play some video games upstairs in your bedroom and get back to feeling normal and like your badass self.

This was a time before the List of Shame (thanks digital, no more piles of shame anymore) was even a thing as games weren’t in such abundance. Christmas was an amazing time to finally mop up those stragglers or that one game you had been saving like some extremely rare chocolate mousse under your bed so that you could really take your time in a semi-erotic fashion – be totally indulgent, get into every crevasse (I’m talking about the games and the mousse here) and savour every tiny morsel of its deliciousness.

Not like now, where the list of shame sits on our shoulders hunching them down and making our playthroughs swifter and less fun than they should be.

But now we don’t even get this reprieve anymore. When we finally moved out of home we packed up all our treasured consoles and games and moved them to our new lives. Which can mean only one terrible thing.

THERe ARE NO MORE GAMES CONSOLES AT YOUR PARENTS’ HOUSE ANYMORE.

So no mid-afternoon reprieve. No sneaking off for a quick round of something. You have to stay in the lounge at all times or people start asking questions.

I mean you could go and sit in the bathroom all alone reading the back of a shampoo bottle for a little nostalgia but how many times can you read sodium lauryl sulfate before you lose your will to live and decide that actually talking with your brother might be more fun.

I’ve spent a lot of recent Christmases at home, which has been nice but I’m starting to think that maybe Xmas for me is about me time. Yes goodwill to others, yes giving of gifts but what about the greatest gift of all?

QUIET. Well not silence – just no noise from other people. I want my video games to be loud, I want to not get dressed at all for a minimum of five days, I want to eat what I want, do what I want and wash when I want. I could do this at my parents but they tend to then relate this to why I don’t succeed at life.

‘Well maybe if you brushed your hair more often you’d get better jobs?’

I brush my hair all year Mum – it’s boring and I don’t want to do it anymore!

That is the true meaning of Xmas for me. Not having to do all the things I do the rest of the year. It is my gift to myself for surviving a year adulting – which we all know is a pain in the ass and never really sat well with any of us.

It’s a return to a child-like indulgent state – which you can either do at your parents house (whether you like to or not) as they criticise your life choices and the people you date, and you shrink back to being 15 and angry the whole time…

Or just regress back yourself. It’s much kinder, it’ll reinvigorate you for another year of ‘being sensible’ and you get to indulge in your greatest passion undisturbed which is gaming or eating or, well TBH its both at the same time. (You should see how I eat Twiglets mid-game. It’s gross but impressive.)

So Merry Xmas to you all whatever you decide to do – don’t forget to Treat Yo Self this festive period. Family is great, but just make sure you look after yourself too. It’s the time to be generous of course, but also be a little selfish about what you want for Christmas too. X

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