Once you hit 13 years old you don't get excited about Christmas at all. The fairytale's over, you don't want My Little Pony's princess castle plus accessories anymore, the realisation hits that all camera footage taken WILL be shown to everyone in years to come so you try to act cool, and the thought of being around your family including the weird extended bunch for three days straight fills you with dread. It's just another day as far as you're concerned, just with more food.
A few years before you would've gone bonkers at hearing Noddy Holder (who you thought was THE Noddy) for the first time that year, got goosebumps at seeing decorations in Asda, and pricked up your ears at the creaking sound of your dad opening the loft door to reveal a grotto of red and gold tinsel after nagging him since November. The last week of school used to be the BEST with Christmas dinners, raffles, colouring in, wordsearches, decorating the classroom and giving out tons of cards to your classmates whether you've spoken a word to them or not. But at 13, going to sleep on Christmas Eve is no bother at all. The ritual of "Shall we put some milk and mince pies out for Father Christmas?!" gets a barely audible reply of "Gnmangunga." as you slouch up the stairs to perfect a new Myspace profile picture. Flicking through the TV channels and spotting Christmas With The Kranks would cause you to carry on flicking until you found Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. However the worst symptom of CBAC (Can't Be Arsed Christmas) is getting an advent calendar from your Nan...and eating it all in one go, which should be labelled a CRIME.
Something happens at 17 years old. A tiny Mr Scrooge lodging in the depths of your brain is moved on by tiny elves and leaves a pathway leading right back to Christmases 10 years ago. Flashbacks of constant telly watching, chocolate eating, game playing, present shopping, and adrenaline rushing all come flooding back with a consequence of downloading every Christmas song onto your iPod INCLUDING S Club 7's Perfect Christmas. Then you wrap up in woolly jumpers, scarves, hats, coats and gloves, even though they're not needed, and run to the co-op to buy their 3 for £1 yule logs and the Radio Times Christmas edition, circling every movie and TV special when you got home and making a detailed TV plan whist munching on your 4th mince pie. You don't wait for dad to get into the loft, stuff it, you go up there yourself because you can reach the ladder now. Sliding boxes down the stairs and forcing your little brother (at 12 he's caught the first stages of CBAC) to help you put the tree up takes a full day, ending with laying the lights out on the living room floor and unscrewing and switching each bulb to see which is the faulty one. Weekends are spent making up quizzes for Christmas Day, ordering presents from Amazon and quoting Elf. Hauling the Asda catalogue onto the sofa and cutting out everything I want, sorry I'd like, for Christmas, and tomorrow is the big day where me and Matt go to Chelmsford and raid Marks & Sparks, Next and HMV for mum's presents, followed by McDonald's. The plan's already made for the big day. Get up at 7am, run into Matt's room, drag him out of bed taking his stocking too, sit on my bed opening our stocking presents and eating whatever food is contained within them, fling open mum and dad's door and shower them in our stocking presents showing each in detail knowing full well that they got them in the first place but SHUSH don't ruin it. The 15 minute wait then begins while mum puts the turkey in the oven and makes sure everything is ready downstairs before filming us walking downstairs, oh so spontaneously, and filling the room with wrapping paper. I'll then spend hours getting ready, donning any new clothes and jewellery whether they go or not, and start playing Kerplunk. Babe, I'm sorted.
I feel 7 years old again. I'm on www.noradsanta.org every day playing the new games and the thought of tracking Santa on that website on Christmas Eve makes me giddy. We haven't got our icicles up outside yet because it's still icy and I'm getting flicking-on-switches-to-produce-pretty-lights withdrawals. I'm rocking as I'm writing this thinking about the Doctor Who Christmas special, all the comedy specials and the huge soap explosions which are coming our way. Mum's handmade Christmas cards are waiting downstairs for me to add some gold swirly handwriting to, as are the place names for Christmas dinner. Poor old Mr Turkey is in the garage (dead) surrounded by pigs in blankets. I want to play Guess Who, Twister, Snap, Bingo and CHASE THE ACE. I want an S Club 7 2011 calendar and the new Steps album. What's happened to me? God forbid I'm growing out of my hormonal moody teenager phase, I was just getting used to it. Alas, I won't complain, I'll embrace all things Christmassy and carry on. It's alright 13-16 year olds! CHRISTMAS WILL COME BACK SOON! *bundles mum, shoves a mince pie in her face and turns up 4music's Top 10 Christmas Hits*