Learning to Love Christmas Again

by Maddie
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It’s 31st December: New Year’s Eve. With each passing year, this esteemed date always calls for reflection. It’s a time of year when we look back at all we’ve achieved, the highs and also the lows, and look forward to a time of change that another year will bring. 2019 will see for me a year of mega change: not least because I’ll be graduating, finding a job and potentially moving to a completely new city. For the first time in my life, rather than following a set path of school, then university, my life has literally endless possibilities; myriad routes I could follow to find myself in the next year. The end of 2018 has seen me constantly looking forward, preparing myself for the changes that 2019 will bring. However, without realising it, 2018 itself has ended with a massive change. And that is the very fact that I’ve slowly began to love Christmas again.

I’ve never been the most festive gal of the lot. I detest snow, hate cold weather, find the dark early nights extremely depressing and adore nothing more than the sunshine and warmth summer brings. I’m a summer baby, and I’ve never felt my best in winter.

However, growing up, I’ve enjoyed the excitement and shared community Christmas brings. That was until my Dad passed away in the January of 2016. From then, Christmas has become a painful reminder of the sadness I try to push from my mind throughout the year, as it was the one time of year that was all about my family, and the traditions and happiness I felt for 18 years of my life is never quite the same without him by my side, now.

For two years I’ve struggled unfathomably with this time of year- I just seem to have a mental block with Christmas. I find my mood dipping considerably: I am my most anxious, sad and low at this time of year. I dread December 1st coming around- having to force a smile when pals are getting excited for Christmas; having reminders of the festive period quite literally shoved in my face when I enter Birmingham city centre, every which way I turn. It’s a really difficult time of year- there’s no getting around it. And whilst it’s still my most difficult time of year, and 2018’s festive period hasn’t miraculously cured me of my Scrooge-itus, I have found a new-found tolerance, perhaps love, for Christmas once again.

And today I wanted to share with you a little day that made me feel a little more with the collective Christmas spirit once again. Just for a wee New Year’s reflection, and a lil goodbye to the festivities.

As you all know by now, I’ve been working with a Birmingham-based activities subscription box called Buckt. For just £12.50 per month, every single month you can get five mystery activities delivered to your door, to make ya month just that lil bit more exciting. You can also purchase a Duo Box so you can enjoy the activities with a special someone, whether that be a partner, best pal or family member.

So far, since I’ve been working with Buckt, I’ve been sent on some awesome day trips with my boyfriend, and also uni pals. From exploring hidden treasures in Brum, such as the ADORABLE donkey sanctuary in leafy Sutton Park (which u can read about here) to scrummy delights such as a DESSERT afternoon tea at delectable Pirlo’s Dessert Lounge (blog post upcoming ya’ll) I’ve had my eyes opened to some bladdy wonders Brum is offering quite literally on my doorstep. It’s such a wonderful initiative, and if your New Year’s resolution involves getting out and about and exploring your local area more, Buckt could be just your way to do that!

So on Friday 14th December, as term was ending for Christmas *HURRAH*- myself and my boyfriend popped along, courtesy of Buckt, to Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Each and every year, the gardens host a bladdy amazing Magical Lantern Festival. And I’m not even kidding when I say it was the most magical, festive evening I have ever had. And that’s coming from a Scrooge, so it must be bloody good.

Tickets for this esteemed event are usually £14 per adult, and thanks to Buckt, I got to go for free! Absolutely marvellous, I tell ya. And I’d gladly pay £14 for it, because it’s just such a wonderful experience. Wandering the winding, secret paths of the Botanical Gardens, you encounter a kaleidoscope of huuuge, magical lanterns, lit up in the most festive display. You’ve got mahoosive magical fairies, frogs, flowers and Mr. Festive Santa- along with huge displays of zoo animals and Antarctica, with an array of scrummy food stalls to get ya in the mood for Christmas. There’s churros, wood-fired pizzas and marshmallows to roast, all whilst staring out at the most magical festive gardens. For ya families with kids, this is one lovely fam day out- and for couples, it’s the most romantic evening. Bring ya pals along and you could have a festive outing, getting merry to mulled wine and roasting ‘mallows to keep ya warm.

Set amongst the Botanical Gardens themselves, trees and foliage cast beautiful shadows across the magical lanterns, and the mystical colours of the displays sent ripples of colour reflecting across the waters of the lake. Just magical, in every sense of the word. But you don’t need me to tell you that: these pictures do the talking.

And as we said goodbye (reluctantly) to the magical gardens, we headed into the city centre for a celebratory Mac n Cheese with my housemates, and then spent a festive eve at Brum’s famous Christmas Market. I just felt so loved, so in love and bladdy content to be with my pals and my boyf. And this evening made me realise that, although fostered in traditions, Christmas can be moulded into something new for me, now. My Dad might not be with me anymore, and his presence will always be felt, missed and mourned at Christmas and all year round, but I can do things to ease the pain, such as creating new traditions to make me enjoy Christmas again. And being surrounded by pals and my boyf, having a ball on a festive evening out, I found that there is still some joy and magic to be found at Christmas.

I hope you all had as wonderful Christmases as could be had, and I’m thinking of those of us that found this year, for whatever reason, difficult. I hope you have a magical New Year’s tonight, and that 2019 brings you all the wonder you deserve xxxx

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