Christmas: Fun For All The Family?

LVJ asks if ‘perhaps for the students forced to endure the next few days abroad the doomstruck departure boards are nothing short of a Christmas miracle’.

Australia Christmas family festive leonie james Muslim

I had always thought Christmas with the family was a given. Mine, apparently, wasn’t.

“Oh, so are you not going to your boyfriend’s for Christmas then?” they asked as I enquired about plans.

I was offended. How could they think I would just abandon them all like that?

Although we are used to Christmas meaning different things for different people – Australians celebrate with beer and a BBQ on the beach and for my Muslim friends it’s eid, with presents, decorations, no santa, different stories – the idea of spending Christmas away from your family is alien.

Perhaps for the students forced to endure the next few days abroad the doomstruck departure boards are nothing short of a Christmas miracle. A friend of mine is struggling to get a flight back from Berlin. There’s a great Christmas market there. He has friends and his own flat. He’s never had Christmas in Berlin; he’s had 20 of them at home.

Mothers sell their gold teeth to bargain a space in the overhead compartment like that woman from Home Alone, and for what? Too many people who didn’t choose each other as companions forced to come together in one over-decorated room. Humbug.

I understand the confusion – the perfect model of family Christmas is reinforced all December by festive adverts and Christmas films; ‘Family’ is actually its own genre. But Hollywood lies to us. The picture-perfect movie Christmas is impossible and instead Christmas sees the highest number of family disputes of any other time of year – fact. As the saying goes, we choose our friends but we don’t choose our family. They are actually groups of very different people, who, for the festive season, are expected to enjoy M&S advert bliss.

I’m not ashamed to admit that eight weeks of term fly by and I rarely miss anyone from back home – family or friends. It’s part of growing up and out of your childhood role that while it is lovely to see them when you return, there is no actual ‘missing’, which says a lot.

First off, spending 25th December away from your family makes the statement that you’re grown up and moved on. That’s a big statement to make. Secondly, for now, it’s actually still quite nice to come home for Christmas.

We’re all old enough to recognise that Christmas day isn’t perfect, though that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on it.  Instead, at least when you’re arguing over the turkey, have comfort in the knowledge you’re there by choice.