Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Packed trains, bulging bags; it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

So, Christmas. The season of goodwill. To be jolly. Merry, even. Maybe; if being ridiculously hungover, three stone heavier and five grand in debt makes you feel particularly chirpy. Bah, humbug.

To be fair, though, Christmas can be good fun. Yes, so we spend too much money and over indulge, but, all in all, it is a time to catch up with your friends, see your family and switch off from reality for a while. I mean, it’s hard to worry about job losses and the rise in tuition fees when you are glued to the EastEnders Christmas special whilst shovelling another fistful of dry-roasted in your mouth and gulping down mulled wine, isn’t it?

Christmas has its place. Only problem is, its place is at least three train journeys, two suitcases and one great big headache away. You see, Him Indoors and I live in London whilst our folks live in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire respectively. And as for our friends? Every corner of the UK, baby.

The first dilemma is where to spend the day in question. Usually that depends on where we spent the previous year, but you can guarantee that something or other will come along to complicate things. This year, it's a get-together with my aunt and uncle arranged for the 28th that has thrown a holly-covered spanner in the works.

Particularly problematic as we have arranged to spend New Year with friends in Peterborough, which has made our travel up and down National Express’s East Coast train line resemble a hyperactive yo-yo if, indeed, we stick to our usual formula.

So, with trepidation, I broached the possibility of spending the 25th with the “in-laws” with my parents, who, in fairness, accepted my argument that it didn’t matter when we saw them, as long as we saw them at some point. And brought presents.

This, of course, introduces the added problem of luggage. Christmas does not allow light packing. Oh, no, siree. We need a large suitcase for the presents alone, plus another for a week’s worth of clothes for the two of us. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we were travelling at any other time of year, but, of course, at Christmas, about half of London’s population is escaping to the sticks, and 50 percent of them are headed up North. On the same train as us. Oh, what fun.

Needless to say, this means that the possibility of getting a cheap ticket became obsolete about six months ago when the more organised amongst us got online and snaffled them all up whilst the rest of us were still sweating it out at the gym in an attempt to lose last year’s Yuletide muffin-top.

So, why not just spend Christmas at home? About 11 and a half months ago I swore to myself that this year would be the year we stay in London, cook our own bird and mong in front of the telly with nothing more than a glass of Cava and a tub of Celebrations for company. Ah, what bliss.

As the date came closer, this dream seemed to fade into the distance behind a pile of wrapping paper and Seasons Greetings. Why? Well, I’m not sure exactly. But part of me thinks that, despite all my moaning, huffing and puffing, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the chaotic train journeys, the mad rush to see everyone you’re related to within the space of one week, and that moment of relief when you finally get back home and realise you don’t have to do it again for another year.

Merry Christmas? Happy New Year? Oh, go on then. Just don’t expect me to do it more than once every 365 days. Read more by Shelly.