A little too early for Christmas stuff? My mum certainly seemed to think so when I asked her what makes up her ideal ‘holiday season’. Perhaps it is too early, but who am I, a mere mortal, to question THE BOOK. Stay with me guys. 2020 hasn’t had a lot of good points so maybe thinking ahead will do us some good?
45/52: ‘LIST THE THINGS THAT MAKE UP YOUR IDEAL HOLIDAY SEASON’
A girl can dream.
3. Roasting Chestnuts
This is a cliché that I entered into quite late. I only tried chestnuts when I was feeling a little risqué in my local Japanese supermarket. The fresh produce in this little shop was grown by local farmers, which meant that it was seasonal.
One day there’d be strawberries and then, POOF, they’d be gone. I came to like it, it meant that I was excited for seasonal changes and the new foods they’d bring. Every trip to the shop was a little raffle and I was appreciating different foods, and the people who grew them, a lot more.
One shopping day in Autumn, bag-loads of chestnuts filled the shelves of my little A-COOP and I thought why not? I bought them, googled how to cook them, managed to cook them, de-shelled them and, finally, had my first bite.
Afterwards came a chestnut-themed week. I put chestnuts in my rice, I made stews and stirfries with them, I started to eat chestnuts as a dessert too (if you haven’t already, please please try 栗きんとん (kuri kinton). Needless to say, I’m a fan and my obsession with chestnuts stuck with me all through Autumn into Winter.
Now I can officially sing ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire‘ while roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
4. Fireplace (on)
5. Fluffy Bedsocks
6. Watching The Grinch
This is my mum’s all-time favourite Christmas film. It’s law in the Langshaw house to watch it AT LEAST once during the festive period. There have been some years where we’ve exceeded this amount and watched it about 3 or 4 times in a month. My mum also has a self-made Grinch costume and has been known to wear said costume whilst watching the film. Grinchception.
7. Planning Out People’s Presents
8. Wooly Tartan PJs
9. Listening to Fairytale of New York
Nothing makes me want to spend Christmas at home more than listening to this song. Two drunken people arguing on Christmas is so laughably relatable, much more than hearing Mariah Carey scream about what she wants for Christmas.
There’s no comparison to the feeling that comes with stomping along to the Irish folk melody and singing ‘the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day’.
10. Tangerines from Grams
Every year since, like, birth I’ve gotten a Cadbury’s selection box, a card and a bag of tangerines and nuts from my grandmama. I’d sit on the floor in my grams’ house surrounded by chocolate while seeing my auntie visit, cousins, second cousins and whoever else would turn up on Christmas day.
There may have been different people every year and different presents, but that bag of Christmas nutrition (that may fall at the bottom of the eating priority list) has never changed, nor has my grams telling us ‘that’s all we used to get!’ It’s become a well-loved and well-needed Christmas tradition.
11. Staying in a Cottage
12. Cat Snuggles
Apparently, snuggling my cats is a year round love of mine.
13. Hot Outdoor Onsen
14. Writing Cards
15. Fairy Lights
Whether it’s on a Christmas tree, out in a pub garden or in hanging down a bedroom wall- fairy lights bring a little bit of magic wherever they go. It definitely appeals to the little magpie within me.
16. Girly Nights
17. Helping People Out
19. Wrapping Presents
20. Watching Harry Potter
Floating candles, thick cloaks and Hermione Granger’s amazingly-relatable frizzy head are just a few things that I love about watching Harry Potter in the winter months. Especially the earlier films, when Ron and Harry get matching Christmas jumpers… bloody perfect.
21. Seeing Deer & Foxes
The foxes near my house are getting absolutely SPIED ON this season.
22. Gingerbread Men
23. The Shared Chaos
For me, Christmas has never been the whole family in matching pjs smiling around a roasted turkey or singing Christmas carols.
It was flying down to Old Swan to see my nan or sitting on the bus with my mum surrounded by presents she’d bought for the family. It was my dad demanding that his best mate goes into the belly of the beast to get juniper berries or fresh rosemary or some other side-quest type ingredient we’d forgot to pick up.
It was those manic errand days with Beck where I’d jump out the car to post Christmas cards, hoping nobody saw us so we’d manage to deliver everything in one day. It was having our Christmas Eve takeaway in a power cut, with my dad wearing a head-torch to see his food.
I absolutely love the chaos of Christmas. The good chaos. The chaos of trying to make everything work and laughing when it inevitably fails.
24. Focusing on Other People and Remembering Your Priorities
Despite what I said in #23 I know that Christmas isn’t the best for everyone, for some, it’s not even a relevant date.
Seasonal depression is well underway, those micro-aggressive racist comments about people who ‘don’t share the spirit of Christmas shouldn’t be in the country’ are out in full force and in our focus to get things done, we can forget about people who are struggling.
It’s an important time to focus on other people and not just so you can tick off your ‘Charitable Christmas’ box, but because people who have privilege (and most people reading this DO have some form of privilege) have resources to share.
25. Planning Out New Year’s Resolutions
2020 has been a mess. And even though time is a construct and a new year does NOT mean this year’s problems will go away, we can get ourselves ready for when they do. Even if these problems don’t go away, we have time to mentally prepare ourselves.
26. Gratitude Lists
27. Raising Money
28. Christmas Markets
I love Christmas markets and my love for them just keeps growing every year as I accumulate more and more awesome memories. In my last Christmas market, before leaving for Japan, I tried my first mulled wine- very festive! I have a term that I use, ‘snow-globe memories’, and that evening was definitely one of them.
29. Listening to Jazz
Jazz nights are top-tier. Jazz nights in winter are top-top-tier. While it may not be possible to listen to live jazz this winter, I’ll be listening to it at home, with some hot tea, fuzzy socks and either my real fireplace burning or the 4K one from Netflix.
30. Comfy Clothes
31. Relaxing and Reflecting with Family and Friends
Another cliché, but Christmas is cliché-city let’s be honest; it’s not the place, it’s the people you’re with.
While a cottage tucked away under a blanket of snow, next door to Santa’s workshop and surrounded by foxes would be lovely. I’ll take my mum’s house in Thatto Heath, with old men stumbling home from The Vine, kids kicking off about sweets and my family and friends near-by any day.
My mum told me this when she broke the news about Father Christmas not being real (I was 12 and about to start high school, it was time). She said that even though the big man isn’t real, I can still believe in the spirit and magic of Christmas. Quite Disney for my mum to be honest, but it’s a thought that I’ve kept with me ever since.
I know this holiday season isn’t going to be the same, not much has been this year- not Easter, Ramadan, Eid, birthdays, weddings… not everyday life. But what’s important about all of these holidays is something that’s important every day of our lives- the people we love. We’ll work it out guys. Keep looking after yourselves, looking after each other and embracing those little things that bring you warmth.
While I started this list a little sceptical, I’ve finished it feeling PUMPED. I’m so excited for the next few months. Not just the big day itself but I’ve realised I much prefer the build up to it. What are you looking forward to for the remainder of 2020?