When I was a kid it was a far cry from the commercialism. It wasn’t about visiting the most superlative markets, creating the fanciest gift guides, reporting every step down a glimmering street of lights and food huts and choirs of gaiety with a click of a button.
It was simple enjoyment.
Sat on my dad’s shoulders in my woolly hat and mittens, watching the crowd of shoppers fly by.
Trimming the house with the same decorations we’d retained for years.
Going to bed after leaving a plateful of mince pies and carrots for Santa and his reindeers.
Being certain if I screwed my eyes shut I could just about hear the bells jingling on the roof above my unworldly head.
Getting up the next morning at the crack of dawn to rip open sparsely wrapped gifts placed in our traditional 10 year old sacks that smelt of woody musk.
Spending half the morning playing with my new toys fresh out the Argos catalogue before heading off to my gran’s for dinner later on, a hole in the glittery tights I’d only just been bought.
Absolutely no cares in the world, just happiness and freedom.
Understandably when you become a fully fledged adult Christmas loses that vibe of innocent fun and it’s not going to be the same as it was when you were 5 years old, but as the years go on I realise I really do find myself falling into a pit of cliches and pressure to be consistently at the top.
Don’t get me wrong, I can still appreciate a sing-a-long to Wham and settle down for a night of festive movie watching scramming a box of Celebrations whilst I’m at it but my constant desire to capture the exquisiteness of Christmas can easily override what it’s always been about, and what I can bypass when heading on the road to aesthetics contrary to the ordinary.
I’ll venture out in the freezing temperatures even when I’m not feeling great because I want to get my Instagram up to standard with some outdoor fetes.
I’ll stand there until I find the right angle to align with my grid, capturing photo after photo and trying to ignore the stares I get in the process.
I’ll make an elusive plan with all the content I intend on devising, ensuring the imagery fits in with the laudably pleasing theme.
I’ll spend half my day wrapping presents in colour coordination with luxe bows and ribbon accustoming the presentation, only for it not to be worth it as they’re heedlessly ripped open anyway.
I’ll add glitter into the mix just because it looks pretty and then regret it when I’m still finding it stuck to multiple surfaces days later.
I’ll hold off on eating my box of chocolates with the golden packaging just because it matches my feed.
I’ll go searching for the premium Christmas Day outfit not because I need it or because I’d rather be dolled up to the nines rather than be lolled about in my ugly jumper. No, it’s because I wish to display an outfit post, take advantage of free time where I’m able to gather some extra documented content.
And it’s not even that I don’t enjoy the visually pleasing side of things, because I do, probably a lot more than I should to be quite honest. There’s nothing I love more than using the beautiful sights of Christmas as an excuse to put my photography to test and make the most of the frosty season with its cold air but warm tones, the idyllic and rustic essence that relaxes the senses, and even just the general mood of holiday greetings.
I can still embrace the atmosphere whilst finding grace in every corner, that’s not a problem. What is a problem is the recurrent guilt and fear of missing out on those opportunities to charm. The persistent pressure to be always on your game, dishing out photos and videos and composed pieces of writing that shine above the rest.
I absolutely adore convening moments, I just don’t want to lose the classic purpose.
It’s silly, really. Carrying that tension and worrying that what you have isn’t enough, even when we’re working to our extremes and trying our best. I don’t think you really understand it until you’re part of the blogging community and influencer industry, either.
I do believe it’s the high amount of competition that does it but I also believe once you stop waiting and exerting yourself to be the picture perfect, hypothetical version of the person you are striving to be, you can actively savour who you are in the existing moment.
It’s okay not to be living a Pinterest life of luxury at Christmas time. It’s completely fine to not conform to the online norm of being surrounded by whimsical magic wonderlands, being so busy attending event after event, splurging in all the designer departments.
What you see is not what you have to be. You, and I, need to remember that you are bossing it no matter what your schedule involves. Whether it’s basic or whether it’s vibrant, your genuine authenticity and your style of content is individual for a reason. It doesn’t always have to be exaggerated.
This year I’ve deliberately gone all out but I need to hold on to this mantra for future reference.
Bringing balance to an already overstated version of reality on social media that can bring adverse reactions is not only distinctive but also important because sometimes, it’s just better to be you.