Once Upon A Christmas Journey
On the morning of the 18th December 2015, I arose from my bed in foreboding excitement, for it was the day I was going to watch Star Wars; The Force Awakens. As the sleepy, English country town I live in remained relatively quiet, I loudly danced and sang around my room with as much idiocy as I could muster. Once my morning excitement subsided briefly, I remembered the journey I had to take to get to the IMAX cinema. We have no train stations in my town, so I had to get a bus to Colchester, and then a train from Colchester to Ipswich, generally speaking it’s not a difficult journey. In the case of myself, it is an incredibly flaw-filled journey, considering I am riddled with the curse of anxiety and an overbearing lack of luck. Yet somehow from the moment I stepped outside until the end of the day, everything went bizarrely smooth, and more than this it was quite possibly one of the most Christmassy days I’ve ever experienced.
As I mentioned before I am an anxiety riddled 20 year old man and this was my first time both booking my train tickets, and being on a train on my own (I know, shock horror) so the very fact everything went smoothly filled with me confidence for the rest of the day. Sitting on the train knowing that the day had started well, and I was on my way to the lovely town of Ipswich to watch Star Wars in 3D at an IMAX cinema meant I was brimming with joy. The journey to Ipswich, as quick as it is from Colchester, is also an incredibly beautiful one, which meant, like a child experiencing Christmas for the first time again I was transfixed to the window. Honestly it felt like I was on The Polar Express or The Knight Bus from Harry Potter heading somewhere magical and surreal. Odd considering in a typical sense it hasn’t felt very Christmassy this year, no snow (as of yet) smaller decorations etc but as I live in the unpredictable country of England, Christmas tends to feel different. It’s very rarely ever categorised by snow; it’s the time of year where I can feel this atmosphere of joy, community and an unbending sense of right in the world. The very best mixed with the very worst. So, in a briefly creative manner, let me describe the things about that day that evoked such a Christmassy feeling inside of me that really are quite normal but that we take for granted every day unknowingly.
Stepping outside of the train station, it felt impossible to have been able to be transported from one county (Essex) to another (Suffolk) in what seemed like no time at all. I was filled with childish excitement, which only increased when I stepped into the once ordinary high street. It was a bustling array of market stalls, shouting vendors, couples holding hands and exchanging romantic glances and snowflakes decorated with lights bridging the space in between the buildings. When I turned my head away from the busy streets I was presented with an amazing display; the town hall, once again ordinary in nature, stood a spectacle of Christmas illumination. Its entire front had carefully positioned, and beautifully chosen decorations that made it seem like the grandest building ever built.
Once everyone had turned up and we’d gathered together the elation and eagerness that each of us exuded just leaked out and affected everyone it came in contact with. The Christmas bug. We walked, we explored, we debated over what to do while we waited for the film, we debated some more, we mocked our indecisiveness, and then finally found a solution. Sat at a table drinking coffee/hot chocolate/orange juice we all chatted, recounted while still in our child-like states funny little anecdotes and memories and found ourselves once again indecisive over dinner plans. You know the moments, those montages you see in movies and sneer at because you think it’s all cliché codswallop when really we all know it’s perfectly normal, and we just wished it would happen more often. Then came the moment. Star Wars. Placing our 3D glasses on and snapping a few shameless selfies we sat in our seats and prepared ourselves for the film, through which our faces changed endlessly. Sad. Happy. Impressed. In short the film was amazing, but I will say no more for I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. We left, chatted about the film, debated again over some elements and eventually departed. The train left the station, the sky was now pitch black, the lights of the town were the only lit elements in sight, drifting away like the satisfying end to a film. Even then the continual feeling of Christmas did not disappear. It was late so the bus I took home was a different network and a bus so small it felt like an extended mini bus, but as I’ve noticed before this creates a very distinctive atmosphere, everyone was so happy and nice. The bus driver was chatty, and quite possibly the nicest bus driver I’ve ever met. There was a man, I’m certain, was incredibly drunk moaning about the state of our current youth, slurring his words as he recounted how “in his day” they were much more active and loving. I half-listened to the things he was saying to the whole bus (a grand total of 5 people) and half-listened to the soulful tunes playing through my earphones, while looking outside once again feeling very firmly placed inside the universe of the most perfect Christmas film. Once home, I lay on my bed and realised that it was probably one of the most Christmassy days of my life, and yet also the most normal. Laughter, arguments, drunkenness, confusion, astounding sights, they’re everyday things but there’s something about Christmas that allows us to take a break from life and open our eyes to it all. So this Christmas, and for as long as possible, open your eyes as wide as you can and experience as much of the smaller memories as you can, they’re big in the long run. Merry Christmas one and all.