Opinion  |  

I’m dreaming of a 1980s Christmas

Bring back Young Talent Time cassettes, hot fibro houses and the meaningful car trip

Forget commercialism and e-cards with politically correct references to ‘holidays.’ The thing about Christmas that has really changed in the past 30-odd years is the car trip.

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My own kids, with their headphones and personal devices, have no idea that they are missing the true joy of Christmas. They’ll never know the satisfaction of making the whole family listen to a new Young Talent Time cassette. Or the contentment of driving past a closed McDonalds, safe in the knowledge of a Christmas lunch just an hour’s drive away.

I am utterly convinced peace on earth could absolutely be achieved if everyone would just put on their new cozzie and run under the sprinkler.

But it’s not just the car trip. It’s the grand arrival at the destination.

No longer do tribes of kids sit on random street corners in unsupervised glory, awaiting the arrival of their cousins. Or experience the sweet relief of climbing out of an old Toyota Corona sans air-con and shaking out a sweaty new Christmas dress.

But I, as an Aussie kid born in the 1970s, know only too well the wonder of being squashed into a tiny fibro house crammed with relatives on a 38-degree day.

I have partaken – on many such summer days – in a meal that was clearly designed for the depths of a UK winter. I’ve personally known the abundant love that can be lavished in the form extra cold custard on hot Christmas pudding. And my heart will forever be filled with thanksgiving for the nonviolent revolution waged by my Mother and Aunts, one salad, one fruit platter, one plate of prawns at a time.

I am also of the firm opinion familial bonds are strengthened by a game of backyard cricket – especially when your Nan has a turn at batting (and running).

More than anything, I am utterly convinced peace on earth could absolutely be achieved if everyone would just put on their new cozzie and run under the sprinkler.

Respondents revealed it was actually a childhood memory and/or a link to loved ones which resulted in people having a meaningful connection to a particular place.

Scientists at the University of Surrey apparently agree.

They partnered with the UK National Trust to investigate the emotional impact of meaningful places. Researchers showed 20 people pictures of landscapes, houses, other locations and personally meaningful objects, while pioneering new brain-scanning techniques.

They found the amygdala – an area of the brain associated with emotional responses – indicated participants became more excited by looking at photographs of places than they did by looking at other photographs.

So, researchers added a survey to the study, asking more than 2000 people about their connection to meaningful places.

Respondents revealed it was actually a childhood memory and/or a link to loved ones which resulted in people having a meaningful connection to a particular place. This, in turn, produced feelings of calm, joy, contentment, energy and a sense of belonging.

When participants in the Places That Make Us report described their feelings in response to these places, their top three responses were: ‘this place is part of me’ (86 per cent); ‘I feel safe here’ (60 per cent); and ‘I’m drawn here by a magnetic pull’ (79 per cent).

Interestingly, over 40 per cent of those surveyed identified “meaningful places” that were only recently discovered to them – good news for anyone who isn’t trapped in the nostalgia of Christmas past that I am!

And in the spirit of new discoveries, I’m reclaiming the car trip this Christmas by encouraging my kids to take off their headphones and put down their personal devices. I might even let the kids pick the tunes.

(Although, let’s be honest, everyone knows that Mariah Carey’s Christmas album is the greatest of all time, right?)

An earlier form of this article was originally published in December 2017. 

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