Tag Archives: santa

My first Christmas in London

25 Dec

For the first time in my life, I didn’t go “home” for Christmas. Since my parents came for Thanksgiving, I decided I would stay in London with Stephen for Christmas and New Years for once. I had visions of a laid-back London Christmas. With the Tube and buses not running, I imagined a blissful tourist-free city. We’d go for a run through the empty park in the morning, then pop into an empty Chinatown restaurant for lunch, then catch a movie in an empty theatre. I was already planning the artsy tourist-free London photos I’d capture.

Ha. Hahaha!

It turns out I was dreaming. It turns out there is no such thing as a tourist-free London. In fact, there may have been more tourists in the city than on your average Sunday. Though it was eerie to not see any double decker buses on the roads, there were plenty of cars and pedestrians. We weaved our way through the crowds in Hyde Park and pushed our way through Trafalgar Square. At the movie theatre in Leicester Square the automated machines were broken, so we had to wait in a long queue to buy tickets. Then my dreams of a quick Chinatown lunch were crushed when we saw the massive queues at every restaurant that was open. Who were all these people out on Christmas Day?! Though I guess they could ask the same about us. So Christmas lunch ended up being movie theatre nachos and popcorn, though we did go out for a proper fancy Christmas Eve lunch yesterday, complete with my first Christmas [figgy] pudding. And in an effort to keep some of the Christmas family tradition alive, I made Swedish meatballs for dinner tonight (and by “made” I mean reheated the frozen ones I bought from Iceland, but they were imported from Sweden and I made the sauce from scratch so that counts for something, right?).

So that was our Christmas this year. It felt a bit like that John Grisham book — like I skipped Christmas. I was a bit emotional earlier this week when it finally hit me that I was “missing” Christmas this year — not just the day itself, but all the traditional events that lead up to it — the Over the Rhine concert, cookie baking, shopping. But I realized I needed to stay back this year. Mostly to take care of housekeeping stuff (I found a good handyman and he’s been round 3 times this past week — the joys of owning an older home!), but also because it made me realize how much I treasure some of the Christmastime traditions. When you do the same thing every year, it can become predictable and expected. It’s only when you take a step back and a year off that you realize what you miss and enjoy. It’s not easy living far away from my family and friends, but it’s the time apart that makes the time together that much more sweet.

santa-hanging

Even Santa can’t stand the crowds of tourists, apparently

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How Christmas is different as an adult

24 Dec

Tonight I found myself asking, “How early do we have to get up tomorrow to open presents?” instead of “How early can we get up?!”

I also look forward to giving gifts instead of receiving them (although that’s still quite nice too!)

As usual, more (including photos of the awesome present I made for my brother) after the holiday.

Merry Christmas!

pug hump santa

Thoughts on Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

20 Dec

Courtesy: Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette

I’m starting a new feature on the blog called Things White Middle Class People Get Overly Worked Up About. Today’s topic: saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

I’m trying to remember when ‘Happy Holidays” became popular. I even tried googling it, but nothing came up on the first few pages and I didn’t want to put that much research effort into a blog post. I feel like it’s pretty recently though. I can understand it’s intention — not everyone is Christian or celebrates Christmas, and “Happy Holidays” includes those of other faiths or cultures. You can’t tell this to some white middle class people though. You’ll get a lecture about our country’s Christian roots or “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I admit I’m not very adamant about the issue (I’ve even let phrases like “holiday party” slip into my vernacular), but here are my thoughts on the subject.

First, whether Christians like it or not, Christmas has become a commercial buy-buy-buy holiday. I know a lot of people who aren’t Christian but still celebrate the gift-giving aspect of Christmas. People tend to feel uncomfortable around extreme Christians, but “Merry Christmas” isn’t “Accept Jesus as your savior or burn in hell.” I can understand using “holiday” in things like grocery store advertisements, because you might like that giant ham for New Year’s (I almost said Hanukkah…) or another celebration. I also understand store associates want to be inclusive, but I wonder if they’re allowed to mix it up — for example, saying “Happy Hanukkah” to someone buying a menorah and “Merry Christmas” to someone buying an ugly Christmas sweater.

I generally don’t get fired up about the Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas debate, but there are aspects of it that puzzle me. For example, we were in downtown Cincinnati the other day watching Santa repel down a building. When he landed he spoke to the crowd and ended with “Happy Holidays!” He’s Santa — besides Jesus, he’s the most important Christmas person. Surely he should be able to say “Merry Christmas!” I also don’t understand “Happy Holidays” on Christmas cards and gift tags that clearly have pictures of Santa or other images you only associate with Christmas. Are they including New Years in Happy Holidays? (or perhaps my birthday, which falls between Christmas and New Years?)

I know people get really worked up about taking the “Christ” out of Christmas, but maybe we should just be happy the sales associate wishes us a happy or merry anything this time of year — if she’s working retail during Christmastime, she probably hates everyone and everything by now.