“Christmas is for children, just for children, grown ups say.” (Glen Campbell, Christmas is for Children)
I say: “Nonsense!”
As I made my final work commute of the year, last Friday (bring on the much-needed festive break), I couldn’t help but notice the look of excitement and glee on every child that passed by. For Friday brought with it the end of term for most children (unless they attend a private school, in which case they most likely broke up at least a week earlier – lucky parents/au pairs/Hamley’s).
I therefore spent the best part of last week’s commute watching parents, laden down with Christmas cards covered in more glitter than a Strictly final, struggle to-and-from their 4x4s. Kudos to the mother whose child had made a gigantic, tinsel covered card – that will look lovely on the fridge.
On Friday evening, one young mother boarded the bus with what could only be described as an entourage of fired-up festive children (if Willy Wonka is on the lookout for a new E-number, look no further). Clearly on their way to a Christmas party – beautifully wrapped gifts tightly held by each child – I looked on, admiring their utter elation, full of the spirit of Christmas. The anticipation of the last day of term now a distant memory; Santa’s visit is imminent and best behaviour the motto of Every. Single. Day.
One little girl sat admiring her sparkly shoes as though nothing else mattered. And let’s be honest, at that age, nothing really does. The only boy in the group was clearly so proud of his choice in Christmas jumper; he made sure all winter accessories were rapidly removed so as to treat all fellow passengers to his reindeer covered attire.
But I began to wonder whether these children experience the same sense of build-up to the big day, as I felt? Being an eighties child, it was mandatory – a right of passage if you will – to spend the best part of November, thumbing through an Argos catalogue, writing what felt like an endless list to Santa. I would hand-write said list and be sure to leave it by the fireplace (a radiator actually – fireplace simply sounds far more ‘of the season’) one evening in December, to ensure one of Santa’s elves magically collected it as they were flying through town – as if they had time for that?! What do children corner the pages of these days? ‘Favouriting’ a page on Amazon, or emailing your list to Santa, just isn’t the same.
And what about Christmas music? On 1 December, without fail, I will allow my ipod to be filled with all songs Christmassy: Mud, Lennon, Cliff, Bowie, Bing, the list is endless. It was only this weekend I overheard a man’s reaction at hearing Aled Jone’s, Walking in the Air, “Tune!” he proudly announced. Tune indeed! Ok, The Darkness, made a good enough effort a few years’ back, and the re-release of, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ will no doubt punctuate many Christmases to come (sad, but true). But where’s that nostalgic melody for children of today to get excited about when they hit their thirties?
Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, not least due to my family’s wonderful way of celebrating it whole-heartedly. I still get as excited during the build up to the big day as I did when I was a 5-year-old. My eagerness at purchasing, The John Rutter Songbook, as a pre-Christmas treat, was like walking back on stage at secondary school – there isn’t an arrangement of his I haven’t sung.
I hope that children embarking on their Christmas holidays, this year, are lucky enough to feel that same nostalgia I feel, when they reach their thirties. I am sure there are plenty of Christmas memories being made as I type (the song list from, Frozen, will no doubt feature heavily on Christmas complications in 2044), so let’s just hope they are as special and character-forming as mine felt and still feel, to this day.