Millennial Diary: Ciara O'Connor
As snowflakes, Christmas is a millennial's natural habitat. The only time of year when our innate need to be babied is socially acceptable - even sanctioned.
We are forever looking for an excuse to leave our miserable rentals to come home to extravagant centrally-heated houses and mammy's roast potatoes. Christmas is basically like when you had to come home sick (but not too sick) from school, and be doted on and fed cream of tomato soup in bed and called 'my little pet'. That's Christmas nostalgia for you - it makes fools of our mothers and we're well primed to take advantage of it.
We're a generation stuck in a perpetual adolescence and Christmas is a chance for us all to regress to a simpler time, when we still naively assumed we'd grow up and earn money and buy homes. A time when we were not aware of the problematic elements of 'Feed the World'.
Millennials have made a religion of nostalgia. Popular culture is washed with the fluro-faded grain of the 1990s, from music to film to fashion. It's become the main marketing tool for big brands looking to target 20-somethings, just look at Stranger Things or the new Nintendo. They're treating us like kids and we're lapping it up.
There has been much beard-stroking musing on our apparent obsession with the past - it's usually explained by the grim socio-political times we live in and our refusal to face the reality of our economic disenfranchisement at the hands of an older generation. Whatever the reason, Christmas is a sugar-drenched nostalgia fest (which is why it is objectively the worst time of year) and we're mad for it.
If you find yourself on this Christmas Eve still without a present for that special millennial in your life, panic not. I've got your back. You may be thinking that said millennial is far too old for Christmas presents and would want to cop themselves on. Sure, didn't you have a house and a baby by the time you were their age? But we're sad and unhinged, so do us a favour and pretend we're eight. That's what we'll be doing.
Anyway, here's my last-minute guide for what to leave your 28-year-old man-baby nephew under the tree - and they're all achievable today! You're welcome.
* A houseplant. We're all about plants. We like to occasionally look after something that isn't ourselves to prove to the world that we're not the arrogant narcissists they say we are.
We aren't allowed pets in our eternally rented houses and we shouldn't be allowed children, ever, so plants have become a receptacle for the hopes and dreams of a generation. They give the illusion of a connection to nature and the outside world, without ever having to actually move from in front of Netflix. Speaking of which...
* Your Netflix password. Please, dear God. The price has gone up to €10.99 a month. Help us.
* A subscription to an actual real-life newspaper. Stay with me here: millennials live for subscriptions. And the constant bombardment of miserable news and fake news online has been shown to be damaging to our mental health. Plus, the retro appeal of print, like the vinyl we so pretentiously adore, satisfies our love for all things oldie-time. Also, it would help keep this millennial dirt-bag in a job.
* An acre of moon. You know those kind of crappy certificates that have been doing the rounds for years? You heard it here first, they'll be hot property. Twenty-something women have really taken to all things astrological; we're aligning ourselves to the divine timings of the moon and #HonouringOurCycles. Sorry we don't have a present for you, but Mercury was in retrograde until a couple of days ago and it really messed us up - shopping was out of the question.
* A millennial hamper. Pop into a supermarket and fill a box with avocados. Say it's to help them save money for a house. Everyone can laugh at it around the dinner table and your millennial will have something to give out about when they go back to their friends. But they'll also be kept in guacamole for a couple of weeks. Win-win.
* A wink across the table as if to say 'I'm on your side', when racist grandad starts talking Irexit and immigrants. Of course, the greatest presents are the ones that money can't buy. Having said that, feel free to slip us €10 too. We won't be offended.
Millennials require particular handling at Christmas. Although we look forward to the opportunity to play Mariah Carey on a loop, danger lies all around at this time of year, threatening to send us into an existential tail-spin. I know you may think that it's polite to ask about our lives, our jobs, our relationships - hell, you might even be interested. However, I assure you, this line of questioning will be viewed as a direct act of aggression.
Yes, we're still working at that place; it is funny that we actually didn't need our degree for that! Yes, we've thought about teaching. Still living with the lads, yeah - you know what Jackie, affordable housing, guaranteed pensions and entry-level jobs aren't actually a thing anymore because of the likes of you, you heinous witch.
Safe questions include, 'So, what are you watching on Netflix?', 'Best meme of 2017?', 'What do you think the Kardashians' Christmas card means?' or 'Is The Last Jedi worth the millions of American tourists that will plague our island for years?'
Racist granddads and not getting a Nintendo-Switch aren't the only perils for us 20-somethings this Christmas. This year, a new (but really as old as time itself) dating trend has been named: 'Marleying'. It's the phenomenon of festive texts from exes, looking to briefly worm their way back into your heart and pants, as weeks of boozing and Christmas music make them sentimental and horny. New figures last week have revealed that one in 10 singles will be contacted by exes looking for a fling this Christmas. It's named after Scrooge's ghost business partner Jacob Marley, who appears out of nowhere on Christmas Eve after being gone for years.
It's too easy when you're back at home, sleeping in your old bed, going to your old pub, probably wearing your rediscovered old jeans (they still fit!), and having that old argument with your mother about the hour you get in on Christmas Eve, to have your head turned by an old flame. After the annual viewing of Love Actually, we all kind of hope for an unexpected declaration at Christmas time.
But them sliding into your DMs when they see you're back isn't love, actually. Resist. And if you don't, there's no judgement here.
After all, it's Christmas.