Our letterboxes are full of 'Gifts for Him and Her' brochures (not to mention the ever-present adverts for by-one-get-one-free pizza), the TV seems to be working as a sales representative for DFS, and the Capital has come to a standstill after 3 flakes of snow; it can only mean one thing: the holiday season is upon us once again. It is funny how every year the country seamlessly slips into the festive mindset, brainwashing us through every possible medium that our freezers must be stocked entirely with food from Iceland. Although it is comforting to spend this season at home, for many of us it represents an opportunity to escape and travel to warmer climates.
The concept, I have to agree, is rather appealing. Lounging on a deckchair, basking in the warmth of the sun's rays with a cooling breeze washing over your face is hardly a scenario we get to enjoy back in London. This bliss is heightened by the knowledge that, whilst you are slowly frying on the beach, you have left many behind who are now freezing in the winter snow. However, if any of you have ever travelled with family, you know that this is not the case. Within 10 minutes of arrival, the bickering quickly ensues. Moving the cases, unpacking the cases, sorting out the clothes, making sleeping arrangements, not one of these activities could be done with the slightest hint of cooperation at home, so why do we think that it makes a difference abroad?
Once everything is settled down, however, the holiday fun can finally begin. From my experience this turns out to be little different to what we do at home: sit, argue, and eat. Come to think of it, it is amazing how much food we get through on holiday. On a normal morning my breakfast would consist of a couple of bowls of cereal, maybe a few eggs on a Sunday, and that's me set till lunch. However, when presented with a buffet of a magnitude of delicious foods, I cannot contain my excitement and suddenly become six years old again. Running round and marveling at the vast array of culinary creations, I insist on eating a bit of everything that I set eyes on. I should probably have a few boundaries though; apparently it isn't acceptable to start eating from other people's plates and I should 'get off my lazy bottom and get some for myself'. This horrific (yet delicious) display of gluttony is extremely ironic considering how hundreds prepare for their holidays: dieting. After months spent starving themselves to gain that hallowed 'bikini body', the temptation for many proves too much. Each morning at breakfast, families will come down and sit tensely in their seats, trying desperately to avoid eye contact with the platters of pastries. After a few days, however, they will eventually break and adopt the 'scientifically documented' view that 'calories don't count when...'
Personally, I do not see the point in this self-destructive cycle. I'd much rather come away on holiday and be able to eat what I want rather than sit self-consciously by the pool holding my stomach in for eight hours a day. But ultimately, which ever approach you have to your holidays, be it the stress of looking after children, counting the thousands of calories of ice-cream that you will inevitably consume, or purely for that enjoyment factor, we British do like our winter breaks. Eventually, when the time comes and you happen to be stumbling through an airport at some ungodly hour, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of burnt, tired, yet still smiling families carrying excessive amounts of luggage as they return home from what will have been a typically British holiday.