Jack Averty: Another year’s over and getting older takes the shine off festivities
The meat was slightly overdone, there was one present you’d hinted at and didn’t get and you’ve watched enough cheesy festive films to make you go boss-eyed.
The most wonderful time of the year or has Christmas lost its sparkle?
After failing to meet expectations yet again, is it time to face facts?
The couch may be covered in glitter, but that sparkle, that feeling you got ripping open presents when you were 12, has never really come back. It has never really been there since growing up and having to start cooking the dinner and vacuuming up the cheese crumbs from the carpet in the evening.
And let’s not forget just how overplayed Christmas is in the run-up to the big day.
Light switch-ons in November, gifts lining the shelves in October, Turkey orders going through in September, and of course the months and months of seasonal adverts with the latest iPhones and electronics we apparently need to be happy.
Can we blame just commercialism for that underwhelmed feeling when the big day does finally hit?
Not quite as there is this horrible thing in life called getting older, and with that comes the stomach-churning fact you have to start spending Christmas away from your family.
You could get all the presents in the world and have your dinner cooked by a Michelin star chef, but you’ll still go to bed not feeling quite right because it’s not the Christmas you grew up with.
That familiarity has been stripped away, like having brandy cream instead of custard on the pudding. It’s different, good even, but never quite the same.
And like a slap in the face, as well as spending the festive season away from family, getting older also means the type of gifts you get change.
Gone are the mountain of presents, zero of which were ever practical. It was toys and sweets as a kid, nothing else would suffice.
Then as teenagers, some of the less important toys on the list were weened out in favour of socks and slippers.
New pants would start to make their way into the Christmas pile, as would shirts and ties.
Then, before you knew it, the adult gifts were outnumbering the fun ones.
Suddenly you find yourself having more chance of being called for jury service than getting something exciting on the big day.
Maybe that’s just life, or perhaps it’s us ruining the excitement by being so impatient.
Are we spoiling Christmas the rest of the year by buying everything we want as and when we see it, leaving just the boring gifts to be dished out on Christmas day?
Sure beard trimmers are fantastic gadgets but they don’t exactly scream fun as you rip open your main present hoping secretly it might be some huge firetruck or toy train set like the old days.
Perhaps it’s just you and the other half on Christmas day, rowing over how long the bird needs to be in the oven, making plans to ply them with Port just to get a bit of peace and quiet as they demand Frozen gets rewatched and you come off your phone and pay ‘full attention’.
Things can get so strained that some may even start dreading the big event. However, all that changes when a couple of children come along.
All of a sudden all those feelings you had as a child resurface, as you start to live Christmas through your kids.
Filling their stockings with toys, putting footprints in fake snow around the house, taking a bite out of the mince pie left for Santa (after downing the sherry, obviously) and chomping the carrot stick, leaving reindeer-like bite marks.
It’s seeing the look on their little faces in the morning, as they burst with excitement racing down to the tree to find it laden with presents, when that feeling returns and the childhood memories come flooding back.
So maybe the sparkle does still exist, even if it feels a million miles off as you engage in a blistering row over whether Die Hard is a Christmas film or not.
That familiar row is of course assuming that you actually get to spend the day at home and not out working like an increasing number of people up and down the country does each year.
From emergency workers and NHS staff to journalists and restaurant employees, more and more people are having to trudge to the workplace on Christmas day and treat this supposed special day like any other.
Heading out in the car on Christmas day, it’s amazing to see the amount of people on the roads. Some heading off to work, others off to the in-laws, the rest just going about a normal day – having given up on that festive sparkle many years ago.
But that sparkle does still exist somewhere, regardless of how faint it may feel.
If on the special day you’ve been forced to sit down and watch Frozen or risk nuclear war with your better half, remember the sparkle and do your best to not let it go.