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On the Ninth Day of Christmas

It’s a bit late to say Happy New Year, but here I am on the 15th January, wishing you one anyway. If you've arrived here sometime after the 15th January, then consider this a Happy New Month, Week or Day, depending on what you need.

Kiera in a sleeveless knit vest and black trousers, smiling in a green kitchen. Shot with flash.

I’ve just arrived back to London after the festive period, and like most, I’m feeling a mixture of delight to be back to routine and autonomy and a bit of flatness that the rest and respite that Christmas offers (for me, beach strolls, local saunas and shell-collecting) are a thing of the past.

Despite our blog being called the Bam Journal, I’m not really much of a journaller (it petered out after I realised I only ever wrote an entry when I was miserable, and rereading made me feel more like a whiny old bag than a modern-day Brigit Jones), but I have started writing thoughts in my phone notes on public transport, where I do my best thinking. So, I thought in the spirit of being more personally present in our Bam communications, I’d share with you three thoughts from the festive break. I wonder if any resonate with you.

1. Everything looks gloriously romantic from a plane window.

Not much explaining to do here, but I'm sure you know the feeling: the intercom muffles on the plane and the pilot announces your imminent arrival, reads you the local temperature and asks the crew to strap in for landing. You lean towards the window to observe the landscape come into focus - the watercolour inlets of the Irish coast, craggy rock faces of the Med, sprawling cityscapes promising adventure and respite from reality. Wherever I'm going, I breath a self-satisfied sigh of 'anything's possible' as the plane comes down to land, and sometimes, embarrassingly, play The Blaze on my headphones to jog an imaginary music video about the upcoming trip in my head. Have a try next time, go on.

2. The ideal amount of time to spend in a family environment is four-five days.

Yep, I've said it. It might not seem very kind-hearted of me, but surely we are all thinking it. The key is to leave the family threshold just on the cusp between euphoric familial bliss and the spiral into petty arguing over who's cooking dinner, 'Oh no, you aren't cooking it like that, are you?', adult siblings reverting to teenage-hood and choosing hours of gameboy, Snapchat, or whatever, over forced-fun family walks. Etc, etc. You want to leave when you're still thinking, 'Aw, I can't believe it's already over! I'm really going to miss you all,' instead of counting down the hours to some peace and quiet while everyone's miraculously busy or asleep so you can pluck your eyebrows or not argue about politics.

I spent nine days at my family home over Christmas. Five adults in a house, deep in the countryside with nothing much for miles around except a very sleepy village and a variety of wandering cats. In a strange move, for me, I bought a journal in Gatwick en route, with the intention of documenting the joy of the season now that my laptop was firmly closed and I had zero. calls. for. two. weeks. Time to really immerse in the present and enjoy the small things, you know? Well, the descent from the aforementioned delight to be home into 'get me back to reality' is laughably obvious from the journal entries. December 21st: 'Here! Flight got in on time, just got to the house and it's absolute bliss. There is true joy to be found in everything just going to plan.' Which I'm sure you'll agree is true. It continues on somewhat in this vane for four days, until Christmas Eve: 'Do you know what I hate?' followed by a bullet pointed list of various dynamics and petty grievances that you'd only understand if you ever spend time with your family.

Now listen: I don't mean to sound ungrateful or out of touch. I know that many people don't have families to spend Christmas with, homes in the countryside, and so on. But I'm also painfully aware of the pressure to have the 'most magical Christmas ever' that many of us feel scrolling though social media in the weeks running up to it. So please take my account with a pinch of salt: I love my family with all my heart and am incredibly lucky for the time I had with them. But it's also important to be honest and break free of the need to look and sound perfect that so many of us feel so much of the time. Which brings me on to...

2. You won't often see the best parts of Christmas on social media because they are plainly not aesthetic.

I read a piece by Eleanor Cording-Booth (A Considered Space - read it here) that resonated with me quite a lot in the aftermath of the Christmas rush. Now, this is perhaps quite London-centric, so forgive me, but she speaks about the weird need to indulge in seemingly idyllic, wholesome activities in the hopes of dredging up a feeling of fulfilment over the festive period (and realistically, showing off just HOW deliciously Christmassy you are). Shopping at Harrods. Ice-skating at Somerset House. Bubbly and mince pies at Fortnum and Mason - and so on and so forth. And it makes sense. Every year it rolls around and every year we desperately try and make it magical for ourselves and the people around us with increasingly expensive activities and material things. Well, my friends: let me tell you about some of the best moments that truly made my festivities, that didn't quite make the 'gram.

  • Dad's blue Prosecco, bought as a novel joke and drunk round the coffee table while playing a game of Pots using an IKEA mixing bowl. The Prosecco turned out to not be Prosecco at all but a weird blend of an unidentified spirit and some sparkling wine, but we drank it anyway and laughed our heads off at our stepmother trying to enact the word 'snot-rocket', added by my sister (must be a Gen Z term).

  • Looking gross. Quite simply, is there any greater joy than wearing an old black fleece and some elephant print harem pants, no make-up and yellow Decathlon flip-flops for a walk to the local off license with no care as to who might see? Is there?

  • Sitting in bed with various family members. Might seem weird, but it's where we often do our best talking. Siblings on siblings' beds or a selection of us on the end of Dad's bed with either a glass of wine or tea in hand, discussing future dreams, current affairs or simply gossiping. No one needs to see Dad in his pyjamas, though.

  • Cold water dips. This is contentious because everyone who dips in the sea loves to post it on their socials alerting people to their hardiness and the beautiful environment in which they get to dip (yes, me absolutely included). But what about in an unheated local swimming pool at 2 degrees, setting a timer for three minutes, wading in up to your neck and shouting the f-word over and over until the alarm goes off, then getting out and sprinting, still wet, into the house for a shower? It's great, but it's not going on the 'graaaaam.

  • Homemade karaoke to ring in New Year. It's one thing videoing a neon-lit karaoke club and a charmingly terrible rendition of Cher's Believe, but it's another putting Spotify on the TV and hollering Milkshake by Kelis into a Pringles tin while various male friends gyrate on all fours around you. That sort of thing won't bring us clients, malheureusement!

Anyway, there's a most honest little round-up of thoughts over the festive period, for you. I'd love to know if you feel the same in any way.

For now, time to get on. There's work to be done and many more not-very-aesthetic joys to discover - how exciting to look forward to!

Love, Kiera x


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