I’m sure you guys have become thoroughly sick of me comparing my life now to my life in the past; this old timer sure loves to ramble, it’s true, but I’m not done yet. Maybe it can be one of my New Year’s resolutions not to do any more “then and now” posts in this here blog, but if so, let’s make this one the last, and then I’ll get on with hoping for the future instead.
Christmas was always spent with my family when I was a child, unsurprisingly; we always opened our presents (well, mostly mine) on Christmas Day, highlights including Transformers, M.A.S.K., Real Ghostbusters and Daleks; I would subsequently sleep through New Year’s celebrations. Things changed in 1989, when my grandfather bought a colour TV for the dining room and I thus inherited the ancient black-and-white one for my room, which enabled me to stay up and watch Clive James presenting a look back at the 1980s (and then set my digital watch to Big Ben at midnight). My mother got me a colour TV the following Christmas, and it was probably around then that I began buying presents for my folks as well. And, for almost as long as I could remember, we had this one plastic Christmas tree that I helped put up every year…
(Sadly, the plastic Christmas tree with which we replaced that has now broken and been replaced — it’d be less environmentally unsound if we just got a real tree every December!)
Being in Worthing in 1992 changed things again, not least because the Christmas holidays were more of an escape for me (due to really not enjoying school) than ever before. In 1993 I’d gone into hospital for dental surgery just before Christmas, and spent the following days coughing up blood, hyperventilating, and swilling my mouth out with hot salty water in lieu of brushing my teeth, so that Christmas was never going to be particularly good (though for the first time ever, I had a VCR in my room!). From 1994 onwards, in a new house in the same town (where my folks still live now, and in which I’m writing this), things became more or less constant: we’d open our presents before Christmas Day (sometimes as early as the 22nd!), and I’d stay up on New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks on TV with my folks, possibly drink some champagne, and then go to sleep…
While I was at university, the Christmases and New Years of 1996 to 1999 were still spent back in Worthing with my folks, usually feeling sexual frustration at being nowhere near any attractive young women (or indeed an Internet connection to tide me over, ahem!), and I also spent 1997 and 1999 recovering from Geology field trips. 1998 was an oddity, as I was in Michigan staying with my roommate’s family, and 1999 was, sadly, our first Christmas without my grandfather; as you know, I felt sad playing the copy of Thriller he’d bought me earlier in the month.
The following three Christmases and New Years occurred while I was living with my remaining folks in Worthing, trying to earn enough to do a postgrad course; it was difficult but I managed, buying presents for my mother and grandmother and receiving music CDs and comedy DVDs in return (since I now had a DVD player in my room!). 2001, when I bought myself a sound card (and actually wrapped it and put it under the tree!), was the only time I had to work between Christmas and New Year (thanks to actually having a job at the time), unless you count 2003 when I was home from university but my mother took me back to the place I’d worked with her earlier in the year for a few days’ extra salary.
(Fortunately, I never had to work the Christmas-to-New Year period while I was at Camden — even when they changed the rules so you’d have to if you weren’t quick enough booking leave — and my current workplace is closed from Christmas Eve until after the New Year! Working in late December, ugh, who’d do that… well, paramedics, journalists, shopkeepers, police officers, power station engineers etc. etc., but APART from them?!)
By Christmas 2004 I was living in London, initially with postgrad coursemates and later with “good housemate” and a succession of “third housemates”. I began to find Christmas at home with my folks a bit boring, especially with no PC of my own to use for games (and, ahem, Internet browsing), not to mention a wonky TV set for which I needed to bring my own digibox home to get any channels at all, and so from 2007 onwards began coming back to London after Christmas to celebrate the New Year with my friends. The first was the best, as my friendship group included all three of my postgrad coursemates (and a couple of others), even if we missed the actual fireworks at midnight because we were running down Aldwych!
After visiting “other female best friend” in Leeds for 2009-10, I had two bad New Years in London (staying home in 2010 and going to an awful “house party” in 2011), and so since then I’ve stayed with my folks in Worthing for both Christmas and New Year. You’ve been with me for all of those; despite the lousy journeys down from London I had in 2012, 2013 and this year, I’ve had good Christmas breaks. I’ve also likely been happier staying here with my mother and grandmother, playing games on the half-decent “Frankencomputer” I built here, than going back to London for New Year and probably having my drummer housemate drunkenly keeping me awake, not to mention being in a house where the heating works!
My poor grandmother’s been ill again this Christmas break, thanks to the cold I brought home (which unfortunately is still lingering and stopped me exercising), but for the first time in several years, my mother’s not been coughing through late December, and for that I am thankful. As in 2012, we’ve been playing Wii games (this time it’s “best mate’s” copy of Wii Sports Resort), and as per every year, I’ve been wishing I wasn’t eating so much chocolate but enjoying it nonetheless, along with my grandmother’s cooking.
Unlike last Christmas, however, I’ve not spent this period fleeing from an intolerable situation, and am looking forward to going back to London tomorrow (not least so I can install The Witcher III!) and having “best mate” back from Ireland shortly after. I won’t say I’m looking forward to going back to work on Monday, though: while I actually do like my current job and am thankful I can afford Christmas presents for my folks, I also like paid time off work — I’m not completely mad, you know…
(P.S. This post was originally much, much longer, as I went back through my diary and wrote down a lot more details — so be thankful it’s only this interminable!)