Heading home for Christmas is not simply the reverse journey of the one you made from home to university at the end of summer. It’s a little less painful to tessellate your belongings into the car, as luggage and miscellaneous items that you probably haven’t touched all semester are replaced by big bags of dirty clothes for mum to wash, and broken things that need fixing. Throw in a selection of your finest winter gear (including at least one festive jumper) and you’re pretty much ready to set sail.
The journey itself, though, is not quite the cruise it was in September. After clambering inside your car, the first 10 minutes of your trip are spent thawing out from an ineffective heater. If you own an old car, chances are you won’t have a way of connecting your favourite tunes to your stereo. You’ve also had the same CD/tape collection in the glovebox for the past two years. Radio it is then. This was fine when driving down for the start of term – your top summer bangers were regularly played, getting your head bopping and bringing back festival memories. But now it’s nothing but Christmas songs. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, most people enjoy a festive number.
However, you’ve unfortunately heard them all so many times during November that they’ve lost their sparkle.
A stop at the service station provides your ears with a welcome break (pardon the services-related pun) from Wham! and Mariah Carey. Normally the staff at Leigh Delamere are lifeless, but this time you are greeted with warm smiles and a brightly toned voice: “Any fries with that?” “Yes please, absolutely”. Christmas really is upon all of us.
That was an especially hearty Burger King, partly because you ran out of food three days ago and buying more would only mean throwing it away before heading home. And because you couldn’t buy any more with the amount of money in your current account. All of a sudden, sleep deprivation from those late nights completing assignments has caught up with you. Your bed, your home bed, is calling.
Suddenly you’re back, and despite all the goings on at university it almost feels like you never left. Upon arrival, you are more aware than ever of the cleanliness of the place that your family upkeeps so well. It’s still recognisably your house, yet a lot has changed – although you can’t pinpoint what at first (except your younger sister, perhaps. She – unfortunately – hasn’t changed one bit during your time away).
The fridge is full of merry treats all of the time; the heating is on nearly all day and functioning correctly; dirty dishes needn’t be carefully stacked by the sink as a dishwasher is on hand; you can happily wander into the kitchen after 9pm as the housemate you still aren’t really clicking with isn’t lingering post-dinner.
Yes, it’s good to be back. For now at least…
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