An Open Letter to: Christmas Cheer

We all know what time of year is approaching. Like the deadline on that summative that you still haven’t got around to, the 25th of December is ready to slap you in the face with a stressful season of boozing and financial bother; so not that different from a term at university really. But despite the underlay of seasonal depression, an increasing overdraft and an expanding waistline, Christmas is a time for joy and cheer.  

So much joy and cheer.  

The festivities of Christmas can be seen everywhere: the first of the month comes around and everyone eagerly slaps up their wreaths and garlands, fishes out their decade old tinsel and erects a usually sadder than hoped for Christmas tree. After hours spent hanging meaningless dangling ornaments on the green centre piece, you’re left with a suffocating smell of pine, delightfully drooping branches and a constant need to have a hoover on hand for the ever-increasing pile of needles all over your living room floor. And a sense of joy and cheer of course.  

And you can’t forget about the crucial tradition of blazing up the front of your house with the fire hazard of fake, flashing icicles or multicoloured bulbs that vulgarly radiate in irregular patterns that, if you stare to long, stand a chance of making your eyes bleed. Christmas lights are utterly inescapable; every town makes an evening event of their Christmas light switch on that reveals an array of over hyped string lights and fading bulbs, making the joy of standing around in the December cold on a bleak night worth the hypothermia.   

Although Christmas decorations get the festive mood going, at the heart of Christmas joy is the abundance of food and edible treats. From the shop brought mince pies to the cheap, Aldi brand mulled wine, you can never go wrong with the warming spirit of this season’s food. The main event of the traditional Christmas dinner always heightens the festive cheer, as you stuff your stomach to an uncomfortable capacity with everyone’s favourite moist poultry meat and the only green vegetable to touch your lips since the start of term, yummy brussels. But despite eating to oblivion, there’s always room for dessert. Everyone’s number one stodgy pudding, brimming with currants and other unidentifiable chewy specimens, is served usually with a side of a spectacular failure of alcoholic ignition. The Marks and Spencer’s (or Waitrose if you’re extra festive) Christmas pudding is accompanied by overflowing joy and cheer, and absolutely no one is dreaming about a slice of chocolate yule log whilst chowing down on the festive figgy sponge. 

With Christmas dinner, of course, comes Christmas relatives: the ones that only emerge out of the depths of your family tree to toast you with a glass of eggnog and tuck in frivolously to the buffet of weird cheeses and pigs in blankets that your family have arranged. You are forced face to face with joyously heated discussion about Brexit and Corbyn, as well as cheerful interviews about your impending future and relationship status. What more could you want from the festive mirth of family Christmas parties?  


Of course, we cannot forget the true meaning of Christmas: giving. With a negative balance in the bank account and looming student debt, the generosity of gift giving becomes all the more satisfying. Everyone loves splashing out on stinky candles and fluffy socks to gift to all your friends and family, knowing they’ll find a loving place in their re-gifting collection: let’s admit it, we all have one. Not being able to afford much more than the Uk’s cheapest meal of a toast sandwich (this is actually a thing with its own Wikipedia page), seems trivial in comparison to the festive joy and cheer of spending money on extremely useful gifts for your many close friends. 

With the cork replaced in the Bucks fizz, the unwanted chestnuts emptied off the plates and the paper hats drooping on snoozing heads in front of a screening of Polar Express, festivities soon begin to fade. Christmas seems to come and go like the flash of your neighbour’s horrendous light display, but no one could doubt that it wasn’t worth every second of smiles or every penny of your student loan. Alas, we have all of this to look forward to as the conclusion of our first term approaches. Munching our way through the daily dose of our advent calendars (we may be university students of adult age but I’m certain we all have them), we can revel in the impending spirit of Christmas joy and cheer…   

So much joy and cheer.   


Image by Antonio Castagna. Available on flickr under Creative Commons 2.0 license

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