In 2019 I had a mohawk. Shaved sides and a line of hair running along the middle of my scalp. I wore tartan leggings and dogtooth pinafore skirts with baggy tops. Or fishnets with scuffed Doc Martens and ripped jeans with vintage denim jackets. I dyed my hair black and was covered in piercings and new tattoos. I felt punk, I felt amazing.
Christmas of that year was one of the best. All of my friends were broke, so for our secret Santa, we chose to only allow “made” items. We are a creative group, so there were to be ten of us exchanging gifts we made ourselves, one unreplicable gift solely created for the recipient.
We gave each other the gifts at our first and to this date last Christmas party. Everyone brought a dish for the buffet; there was a vegan cheeseboard, guacaroni, Fran brought roast potatoes and somebody else did stuffing balls. There was a feast, and, like the gifts, it was something personal that had come from us.
Food and music and friends and present giving. We were in a space full of love. And in Vikki’s house in Stony Stratford, the lot of us created a singular moment in time that could never be recreated.
For my gift I received a painted canvas from Finn – he told me the story of how he painted it, listening to Pink Floyd and practically meditating, only coming round once the album and painting were finished. The colours are all autumn leaves, burning sky, and soupy black. It hangs in my room next to two other canvases he has gifted me since.
Corin gave Annie a song, a piece of music he produced to represent her soul, her being. While the tune was leaving her phone speakers, most of us were stunned into silence, tearful at the sentiment. There is a video somewhere that pans the circle we sat in while listening to the tune, our faces all full of concentration but also love.
Darry gave Corin a watercolour of a rose, a painting now I am sure is more loved than anything. It is a treasure that reminds us of the loss of a great friend – the man who wore mustard yellow and danced to Steps songs until 3am.
Vikki gifted Chloe a game she created called “Chloe’s Rates” – the concept was a set of cards with individual tasks on them (such as “find a way to hide everyone at once” or “make a face out of clothes”) that Chloe would hand out to people at random. Once the task was complete, Chloe would rate it from 1-5. Whoever had the most points at the end won. We played the game for the rest of the night and had too much fun to tally the points.
Most people left that party between midnight and 1 am. A few of us stayed and listened to music until the sun was coming up, unwilling to hand over the night we’d had to the morning to come. But, eventually, sleep found us all, and there were a few unsnatched hours where we were curled up on the huge denim sofa-bed, sleeping our way towards well-earned dehydration and headaches.
I can’t remember much from the day after except reluctant tidying and looking through photos of the night before, of which there were many. The hangover was bad but we were all in a similar way, and so the night that linked us was still present.
Recently I have been listening to the same sort of music I listened to back then. And I cut my hair again. The pictures have been coming up, too. A lot of time has passed, and many things have happened, but I know that we are all connected by that same thread, I know it tethers us back to that party.
Regardless of what changes, that night will always be remembered the same. And it is ours to come back to whenever the natural passing of time suggests that we should.