17 Views

Christmas in university halls: a family event

Last year’s Christmas was a tough one for my family, leaving me determined to create new and better memories this year. So I decided to host Christmas day myself, catered and served in my flat in Northfield.

 

Last year, two days after Christmas, I woke in the early hours of morning to a paramedic standing over me. My heart rate was in the low 200s and my lungs were barely functioning.

 

An hour later I was lying in Resus fighting for my life. Jump another three hours and I was saying goodbye to my girlfriend and my mother as I was taken into theatre – the surgeon wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he didn’t have time to waste figuring it out.

 

On New Year’s Eve, I rolled over in my hospital bed and watched the clock as it ticked over into 2016…

 

I was released from hospital just a week after I went in, but two weeks after I was discharged my mum was back in the same ward, this time visiting my grandmother who had also been rushed in very suddenly. One more week down the line, she had a call from a nurse to say that my nan had died.

 

With these dark memories overshadowing the festive season, I was determined to make 2016 the best possible Christmas for my family.

 

It had long been our Christmas tradition to wake up early and open our presents. My mum would go to church, and then my sister and I would meet her afterwards and walk 30 minutes to my grandmother’s house. The turkey crown would be in the oven when we arrived, and she’d be sitting in the living room watching TV.

 

It dawned on me, fairly early into 2016, that I would never again walk into my nan’s kitchen and smell the turkey cooking. I would never again walk through the double doors from the kitchen into her living room and see her watching Eastenders on catchup.

 

As sad as this realisation made me, I knew that my sense of loss would be nothing compared to that of my mother. Christmas had been ruined for her forever by the tragedies of the last, and the gaping hole in our annual tradition left by my nan’s departure would only serve to amplify her sadness.

 

I wanted to do something to change that; something quirky that would distract her from the worst of her emotions. At the very least I hoped it would take the stress of arranging the festivities off her plate – to be replaced by turkey!

 

That is how I decided to host our Christmas dinner myself, catered and served in halls. The festive bird roasted in the same oven that reheats my daily pizza, and then carved on the same table that has seen games of beer pong and of Ring of Fire a hundred times over.

 

When we’re younger Christmas is – rather selfishly – all about our own enjoyment. Our parents cook for us, they shower us with gifts, they even eat the cookies and milk that we leave out for Santa’s reindeer to keep the illusion going just one more year. They swallow down all the dairy despite knowing that they’re going to need all the room they can get for the deluge of food the following day.

 

As cliché as it sounds, the older we get the less Christmas becomes about receiving and the more it becomes about giving. Suddenly we want to spoil our loved ones, rather than being spoiled ourselves. Or at least, we’re willing to vie for a healthy balance of the two.

 

The presence of this role reversal was poignant to me when I woke up at 8am to start prepping the Christmas dinner. No longer was everything being done for me; the responsibility was on my own head now.

 

The first thing that I noticed about my Northfield version of Christmas was the hangover – certainly not something that I remember experiencing as an eight-year-old on Christmas day morning! The second was that putting your hand up the backside of a turkey with a hangover is not ideal.

 

After removing the innards of the turkey, I took half an hour to sit down and fight the urge to vomit whilst contemplating veganism. I then went to pick up my mother and my sister, both of whom conveniently live in Brighton.

 

In true student style, the sink is still full of washing up as I write – a full 28 hours after the meal. But in my defense the food coma was one to be reckoned with and roasting a turkey for 4 hours leaves some stains that you just don’t have the stomach to tackle when nursing a hangover… Particularly with a big meal threatening to make a reappearance all over the cheese board.

 

In many ways, Christmas in Halls was no different to Christmas at nan’s. There was Monopoly, there was turkey – and I’d even overcooked the veg. Being the one in charge was certainly a contrast, but it was one that I enjoyed. Seeing my mum smile and relax, one of the few times that I have seen her do either in 2016, was the best gift that I could have asked for.

 

My scenic distraction had worked. My nan was definitely not forgotten, but now her memory was a source of smiles and laughter rather than a reminder of her absence.

 

We toasted to her at the end of the meal, before mum insisted on helping me clean up. It may even have been the first time in my life that I have protested her cleaning up after me, but still she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

 

On the whole, Christmas in Northfield was a success. Every family has different Christmas traditions, and while I might only be a fresher in Halls once – I’ve at least carried on nan’s tradition of blackened broccoli. And none of us would change that for the world.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Cinderella review
Arts, Film & Theatre
16 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
16 views

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Cinderella review

Georgia Grace - February 23, 2018

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia came to the Theatre Royal Brighton this week with a trio of classic ballet performances to impress a range of audiences.…

Billionaire builds colossal 10,000 year clock
Science, Science & Technology
30 views
Science, Science & Technology
30 views

Billionaire builds colossal 10,000 year clock

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has gone ahead with a plan to build a giant clock to promote long term thinking. The clock's design should allow it to…

Neuroscience: it must be love on the brain
Science, Science & Technology
79 views
Science, Science & Technology
79 views

Neuroscience: it must be love on the brain

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

If you're madly in love, I'd like to ask you to take a moment to consider what exactly is happening inside your brain. Love is a many-chemical…

Rockets and technopoltics: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy
Science, Science & Technology
48 views
Science, Science & Technology
48 views

Rockets and technopoltics: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could become a defining feature in humanity's exploration of space, but this impressive technical feat opens up a new frontier of…

Should the monarchy be abolished?
News
23 views
News
23 views

Should the monarchy be abolished?

Will Cronk - February 23, 2018

YES William Cronk Since the time of Alfred the Great, this country has had a monarch of some form or another. The monarchy has provided stability and…

News, Podcast
28 views

News Round Up: UCU strike updates, tuition fees and more

William Singh - February 23, 2018

In this news round up of the week, Will and Deniz catch you up on everything going on around campus. Thanks for listening and tune in next…

Academic Armchair- iObjectify: self- and other-objectification on Grindr
Features, Top Stories
23 views
Features, Top Stories
23 views

Academic Armchair- iObjectify: self- and other-objectification on Grindr

Devin Thomas - February 23, 2018

The Badger Features Team interviewed Sussex’s Yasin Koc about his work on the psychological factors behind Grindr. He posits that use of the app is associated with…

The Badger Reviews: Derry Girls
Arts, Film & Theatre
26 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
26 views

The Badger Reviews: Derry Girls

Sophie Coppenhall - February 22, 2018

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MwnpSEzprQ[/embedyt] This week, Sophie our film editor, reviews season one of Derry Girls. Have you seen it? What did you think? Leave us a comment on…

Arts, Film & Theatre
40 views

Krater’s Valentine’s Day Special review

Daniel Green - February 21, 2018

Love was in the air at a Valentine’s special of Krater Comedy Club last Wednesday and, despite the pouring rain outside, Komedia was packed full of people…

‘Paws for Pensions’ among strike event schedule
Campus News, News
42 views
Campus News, News
42 views

‘Paws for Pensions’ among strike event schedule

William Singh - February 21, 2018

University of Sussex staff are hosting a full slate of events on strike days, including talks, teach-ins, and even a day to bring along your puppers. Members…

Exploring Mumbai Street Food
Lifestyle
41 views
Lifestyle
41 views

Exploring Mumbai Street Food

Louisa Streeting - February 21, 2018

Mumbai is a place that assaults the senses; an array of smells you’ve never smelt before, vibrant colours, and constant noises from the surge of tourists and…

Comment, Opinion
44 views

Comment Cast: Misogyny In Hollywood

Will Cronk - February 21, 2018

In the is episode, Will and Sophie discuss misogyny in film and tv. For more, pick up a badger around campus or read it online. Tune in…

Students need to support the UCU strike
Comment, Opinion
52 views
Comment, Opinion
52 views

Students need to support the UCU strike

Johnbosco Nwogbo - February 20, 2018

The question of whether or not the current UCU strike is justified is an easily settled one, if one took a broad view. According to the Joseph…

Women’s suffrage 100 years on: what’s changed?
Features, Top Stories
50 views
Features, Top Stories
50 views

Women’s suffrage 100 years on: what’s changed?

Roisin McCormack - February 20, 2018

As it reaches a century since the defining moments of women’s suffrage, Roisin McCormack looks into how much things have really changed. Is a celebration of the…

Retrospective: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch Drunk Love’ (2002)
Arts, Film & Theatre
31 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
31 views

Retrospective: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch Drunk Love’ (2002)

Gabriel Ross - February 20, 2018

During a 2002 interview with Charlie Rose, when asked whether he is going to take some time off, Adam Sandler promptly replies, “I don’t really wanna have…

News
53 views

Live: Students’ Union decides on UCU strike backing

William Singh - February 19, 2018

U.S.S.U-Turn: 54 students decide stance for 17,000
Campus News, News
69 views
Campus News, News
69 views

U.S.S.U-Turn: 54 students decide stance for 17,000

Jordan Wright - February 19, 2018

On Monday 19th February, the Students’ Union Council will vote on whether or not to support the national Univerity  and College Union (UCU) strike action that is…

The Wombats: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ review
Arts, Music
38 views
Arts, Music
38 views

The Wombats: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ review

Matthew Nicholls - February 19, 2018

Three years after their last release, The Wombats are back with their long awaited fourth album ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’. Since 'Glitterbug' reached number 5…

Artist Focus: Ella Barkhouse
Artist Focus, Arts
51 views
Artist Focus, Arts
51 views

Artist Focus: Ella Barkhouse

Louisa Hunt - February 19, 2018

Ella Barkhouse is a second-year Brighton student, studying Fine Art: Critical Practice course. Her work ranges across all sorts of media, from some more traditional writing, drawing…

The ultimate LGBTQ+ books guide this February
Books
77 views
Books
77 views

The ultimate LGBTQ+ books guide this February

Shiri Reuben - February 19, 2018

  Throughout the month of February, LGBT History Month aims to promote tolerance and spread awareness of the historical and present-day prejudices faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual…