I personally find the age old ‘do-not-compare-yourselves-with-others’ line relatively easy to follow through with. Although the size 6, Instagram-famous model with the shiny black hair, who buys a new Gucci handbag every couple of weeks, tinges my face with green on the occasion, I never tend to square myself up in comparison. I am a short and stocky bird from Newcastle, who forgets to brush her hair more than her teeth and can eat her weight in marmite on toast. I am comfortable with that, it is who I am. What good is comparing my body, my achievements or my current goals to others’? As Morrissey once said – “so what difference does it make? It makes none”.
However, my one acceptation always, always seems to be Christmas Day. Without fail every Christmas, my ‘I will not compare myself to others’ mantra gets chucked straight out of my bedroom window (alongside my average chocolate consumption).
For some context, I have a really tiny immediate family. By tiny I mean it is just me, my beautiful mommy and my 17 year-old brother. Do not get me wrong – I am not complaining about the lack of people gathered around the annual Christmas feast (the less the merrier personally) but I cannot help to think that my day never really matches up or seems as ‘good’ as many of my best gal pals.
The usual Christmas Day
My Christmas Day usually runs with the same stamina and itinerary each year, without much change. We found the formula which works for my little family and we like to stick with it. That may sound unbelievably boring and borderline sad but we like what we like. We are the angry mob, we read the papers every day. We like who we like, we hate who we hate… You know how the rest goes.
I am dragged out of bed with the smell of freshly-baked pain au chocolates and the popping of M&S Buck’s Fizz. We ravage through the prezzies under the tree in our living room; wear our new clothes, pop to the pub for a pint (one of the only times in the year I get to see and talk to the lad I have had a crush on since I was 13) before having a turkey dinner. After that we usually sleep and watch a Harry Potter (this years was The Prisoner Of Azkaban, my ultimate favourite) my boyfriend comes over, we play a couple games and we go to bed.
We open presents; we eat; we watch telly; we sleep. Frankly, it is a brilliant day filled with all of my favourite things to do (eat, sleep, watch telly, repeat) but sometimes, when I subject myself to social media on Christmas Day I feel like it is not the conventional, made-up bullshit of ‘the perfect Christmas’.
A romantacised Christmas
My idea of Christmas is often romanticised. Maybe it is watching the fictional ‘Fozziwig’s Annual Christmas Party’ – points if you know the film reference – and seeing ALL the people who know and who you like having drinks and dancing. Maybe it is reading about the Hogwarts’ Yule Ball. Maybe it is just seeing other people having fun via videos on Instagram and Snapchat that makes me look at my Christmas and think “well, why am I not having seven glasses of wine? Why am I not going for a walk on the beach, why, why, why?”
The festive period is always full of other people doing things. Whether it is going to the yearly Christmas party at the office, or celebrating somebodies birthday slap-bang in that sleepy period between Christmas and New Year, other people are always doing things. But not me.
It is interesting that I feel this way around Christmas. Arguably, I enjoy adventuring around the globe in summer far more than skipping around in the rain in December – but I do not see me beating myself up because I have only been to one country while my gal pal’s have been to seven. Where is my logic? I build Christmas up to much because I believe that my day should mirror and conform to the romantacised ideal I have been exposed to.
Learning the ropes
To get past this idea of ‘the perfect Christmas’, I think I need to grasp the concept that perhaps not everything is always as it seems. I also believe I need to be far more grateful than I am. I am beyond lucky to be able to travel home to the north at Christmas, and spend my time curdled up on the sofa with my entire immediate family, my pets and my seemingly-bottomless mug of tea. I am a lucky bitch.
People like different things, and traditions fluctuate from family to family. Some people enjoy having a couple glasses of red on Christmas evening while watching AbFab, while others like to hammer the vodka and cheese twists while roaring to Phil Collins. My family like to drink hot chocolate and be a bit geeky and sleep. And you know what, that is totally okay.
I do not like drinking in the house, so why am I programming my mind to believe that, to have a good Christmas, I HAVE to get mortal and throw up the eighteen roast potatoes I managed to stuff into my gob. Nope, nope, nope.
People do Christmas their own way. I cannot do mine the way Margret from down the road does hers, and I cannot do mine like I did it seven years ago.
It is time to accept that however you spend Christmas is your business and nobody else’s. How you spend your Christmas is not my business and I need to stop wishing that mine was the ‘conventional, perfect’ day. Your Christmas is better than anybody’s – because it is yours.
Perfection is found in imperfection. And honestly, although I struggle against others’ ‘better days’ – none of them get to spend time with my family. And that is the main reason I should stop idolising others, and stop comparing my Christmas to their Christmas.
PS. I had a bloody fabulous day, and I never want to see another carrot for at least a year.