For many years, it was tradition that my group of friends would go out on Christmas Eve.
Numbers would generally fluctuate year on year as girlfriends and boyfriends were added and/or removed and, while we had a very definite and repetitive plan, it was flexible enough to accommodate most sets of personal circumstances. We would start at McDonalds, go bowling and then go to various pubs and bars. You could pick and choose which parts you fancied.
For many, boyfriends and girlfriends turned in to husbands, wives and children, the latter of which are not old enough to drink or throw a heavy ball on a wooden floor, so it started to become just McDonalds and drinking.
We went to Manchester on Christmas Eve this year and turned Maccies in to a curry. The odd thing, though, was that nearly everywhere was closed by at least 10pm. And the thing was, there was virtually nobody looking to go anywhere. It was quiet.
Then yesterday, Christmas Day, none of the local pubs were open. Even the usually 24 hour Spar only chose to open for 4 hours over lunchtime.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is bad, it just feels like a turning point.
I regularly go out on a Sunday. Sunday mornings are made for brunch, Sunday evenings are made for roast dinners and, when you can’t invite yourself round to someone’s place who is making it anyway, you go out for it. When you forget to buy the bananas, you go and get them.
I don’t know whether it’s because, this year, Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday. Maybe from a commercial perspective, that made it extra expensive to employ people to work in pubs and restaurants. But as I say, no-one even seemed to be trying to go out.
Maybe it was also because I was in the city and all I was really seeing were the effects of the migration to see family and friends in the outskirts or further afield. Maybe it was also because everyone had blown themselves out on Friday and Saturday after the 9to5ers had finished work.
It’s one of those comments about Christmas that it’s becoming increasingly commercialised. Year on year, we hear that it’s getting more so. This year it felt like I was seeing Christmas become more traditional. It might just be a blip, but it’s a nice thought.
I hope you had a good one.