A couple of years after I moved out of home, my parents broke up.
Christmas immediately became awful. "Christmas won't be the same!" I would agonise, still relying on Christmas traditions that had been established as I was growing up. Thus, five years of hating on Christmas followed, as each year would roll around and I would have to negotiate the guilt-filled minefield of Christmas day. I was totes grinchy. I was "bah humbug". I mourned the loss of family Christmasses and was jealous of the Christmasses of other people.
The grinchiness was a major about-face given that my entire life I had been a Christmas geek, a legacy handed down by my Nanny. Even when I was in my teens I would leap out of bed at 6am on Christmas morning to see whether Santa had visited. How could things ever be the same if my parents weren't scheming to fill my stocking with oranges together? Christmas was ruined forever.
After an extended (and probably excruciating) period of Christmas hatery, I had An Epiphany. I realised that only I was responsible for my enjoyment of Christmas. It wasn't my parent's job to make Christmas amazing for me and if I wanted Christmas to be amazing, it was time for me to take responsibility for my own good times.
And thus, over the last four years, I have been working at making my own traditions and restoring my inner Christmas geek.
In the pursuit of geekery I have been persuasive in flats and tyrannical in my own house. I am committed to real trees, making my own Christmas mince* and Christmas cake**, drinking egg nog and making Christmas playlists. Christmas Day is an unknown quantity - between Shannon and I we have three or four sets of family to visit - but I can control the peripherals. Thus: croissants and coffee for breakfast and an unaccountably early start to the day.
But, most importantly, I am committed to just generally feeling Christmassy - the feeling of anticipation and infinite possibility that I used to have as a child - and to sharing my Christmassy excitement with the people around me.
My Christmas philosophy then is that you are solely responsible for giving your Christmas the best possible basis it needs to be a good day. You choose who you spend it with, and how you spend it. Even choosing to spend it with obligation people is a kind of choice - albeit not necessarily a great one, in hindsight.
And with that final note, I shall proceed to listen to All I want for Christmas is You on repeat.
* from the recipe given to me by Lisa after a blog post where I mentioned the grossness of suet.
** this Hungry and Frozen one but without the marzipan icing.