The Seven Stages of Christmas Recovery

As the new term starts, Bridget O'Sullivan discusses the difficulties of the post-Christmas blues.

Stage One: Clinging on to that Christmas feeling

The early hours of the 26th are upon you… you’re glued to the couch, like you cannot move for fear that your stomach will explode, and an avalanche of chocolate Santas and congealed trifle will escape your stomach. Despite feeling absolutely shattered… like you just came back from a nightclub kind of shattered, you still would rather not sleep on the couch, where your brother is drooling, and your dog is snoring. But leaving doesn’t feel physically possible, plus leaving the living room, the hub of Christmas in your home, would signal the end of yet another Christmas day and you’re not quite ready to break up the festivities yet. Instead, you switch on BBC iPlayer… there may have been some hidden Easter eggs in Gavin and Stacey that you missed; you savour Christmas for a little while longer.

Stage Two: Eating yourself into denial

It’s the 27th and it’s been well over 72 hours since health has lost the battle to ‘fuck it…it’s Christmas baby!’. You don’t think you’ve ever been this ravenous, nor do you think you’ve ever eaten this much. It’s alarming as a part of you wonders if you’ll ever be able to eat normally again…like will a recommended portion of food ever feel like enough? Is this the Christmas you took it too far? By next Christmas, you may be bed-bound and starring on Channel 5’s Christmas special: “Festive Fatties”, if you keep it up at this rate. You contemplate all this whilst rummaging in the fridge for leftover stuffing, and maybe a bowl of custard on the side. You’re eating yourself into believing that Christmas, what the past two months have built up to and your bank account has bowed down to, isn’t over yet.

Stage Three: embracing the weirdness that is Christmas week

A haze of days flash before your eyes, and you’re not sure whether you are actually participating in them… or just lying languid and letting them pass you by as you binge the second season of Penn Badgley’s You. With each day you become less certain as to whether Christmas is glorious or torturous, perhaps being pursued by sexy psychopath Joe in sunny LA would be a better use of your time than arguing with your brother over who gets the remote. What ensues over the course of these days is a plethora of bad television, family board games, arguments caused by cabin fever and an ever-deepening reluctance to leave the house… this isn’t sustainable.

Stage Four: New Year’s Eve anger

A night of drunkenness and false hope…the party wasn’t anywhere near as good as it was hyped up to be. At around 10 pm you start to think about how over-rated all this Christmas stuff is anyway. It’s just a week, like any other week. By 11 pm you’re telling your best mate that calendar months and biblical years are just social constructs, and that you’ve seen the light. You spill a good part of your rum and coke onto your mate who’s obviously had enough at this point and reminds you that not a week ago you were espousing jolliness and subscribing to the construct that is Christmas like it was a sponsorship paid for by the pro-Santa movement. That shuts you up.

Stage Five: Taking down the decorations

Those early days in January where it’s acceptable to keep your decorations up are over. Your parents have entered into some sort of decluttering competition…suddenly Mum is not only removing dusty baby Jesus ornaments but asking whether we really need the tv anymore…

Stage Six: Resuming normal life

University starts back up and Christmas feels like an era gone by. That bleak January feeling is in full-blow and suddenly wrapping up in a coat and hat isn’t festive or romantic, but an inconvenience of miserable weather. You have three deadlines in one week, every day is slower than the last and January seems never-ending. The rain is equally interminable as you hark back to this time a month ago. Uni had just broken up and life seemed to be white-washed with a cataract of tinsel and good-tidings. Now, as you trudge to the library, everything is gloom, gloom, gloom.

Stage Seven: Finally letting go

It’s the end of January, or even the beginning of February, before you feel fully recovered from the dispirit of post-Christmas. There are absolutely no traces of Christmas anymore, not in the ‘reduced to clear’ aisle in Tesco’s or in the once-tinsel strung windows of houses. Nothing. Nada. Christmas has slowly been stripped from the face of the earth. It feels refreshing, and the fact that January is over feels even better. But because we’re a society that does love our constructs, Valentine’s Day is sitting right there awaiting your anxiety.