-Insert Generic Christmas Title Here-

As everyone knows (unless you live under a rock), we’re heading in to the festive season. Everything is bedecked in red, green and gold, newly released songs are adorned with the sound of bells, and there’s a definite tension as the final week of university, school, or work (if you’re lucky) begins with a crisp, clear winters’ day.

What are you most looking forward to about Christmas this year? Is it the adrenaline-pumped rush of last-minute shopping? The somewhat more relaxed feel at a place of work or study? Or is it the chance to have a rare but invaluable catch up with friends and family with none of the stress of day-to-day life?

For me, it is most definitely the latter. Over the weekend I went home and spent several hours decorating the Christmas tree with my sister and brother-in-law, who, incidentally, are going to their own parents for celebrations, rather than having their first day together as a married couple! Surely that is a tribute to the importance of family at this time of year. Coming together to just enjoy each other’s company with no agenda, no worries, nothing but lots of food and cheesy movies to enjoy for far too many hours on the sofa.

Another tradition we have, aside from my sister and I taking over the decorating of the house, is our annual Boxing Day Bowling. After a lazy day of present opening and eating, we take the 26th December as a day to go out and do something as a family (which is becoming an increasingly elusive occurrence during the rest of the year). Heading off to a small but friendly bowling alley, we while away the day eating curly fries and attempting to beat my mother’s surprisingly high strike rate. Last year I had to work until 5pm on Boxing Day, and this revelation was met with outrage from the rest of the family… though, of course, we still went just a little later than usual.

I have so many reasons to be thankful this year. Christmas 2010 was a particularly sad and lonely time for me, but already I can tell that the upcoming weeks are going to be filled with lots of laughter and good times are to be had by all. I’m moving out of uni halls and going back home for the rest of the year – a decision that has brought great relief and peace, I’m seeing friends who’ve disappeared to America but are home for an all-too-short time, and feel that 2012 is going to start in a truly positive and uplifting way. None of this would be possible, however, without my family being around me and us coming together to live life and reflect on the year that has passed, as well as closely remembering the true reason for the season.

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