Getting there

Getting there

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Memories, December 24th, 2010

This morning I woke up thinking about where I was last year on this day. I wasn't even in Canada, you see. I was "across the pond", on my first ever trip to London. I spent last Christmas Eve in London, and magical doesn't even quite begin to describe it, dear friends.

We had been dreaming about and planning this trip for a very long time. We had long talked about when to go, and for some reason Christmas just seemed the right time. I suppose it's because every place seems to take on a magical glow at this time of year, and to see London for the first time at this season - especially for my daughter - seemed perfect. So, we left Canada on December 17th, and arrived just before Heathrow closed due to snowfall and poor weather, stranding thousands of passengers. We were so very lucky, and that was truly where the magic began.

On Christmas Eve day we had made no plans. We decided to grab a black cab, those ubiquitous fixtures of the London traffic scene, and head to Hyde Park. Hyde Park becomes a "Winter Wonderland" for the month of December, a place much like a Canadian carnival but bigger and with booths serving alcohol at every turn.

It's an incredible sight, really, as I'd never been to a carnival at Christmas before, and added to the rides and food booths are ones selling gifts and handmade items, too. There was that pervasive feeling of Christmas in the air, too.

We tried roasted chestnuts (which must be an acquired taste, and one we do not have), and hot egg nog (not even close to having a taste for that), and eventually settled on some lovely cinnamon and sugar churros. It seems the local pigeons and squirrels enjoy those, too...

Once we'd had our fill of churros and rides it was time to grab another black cab and head back to The Savoy, and on to Christmas Eve Dinner. We had booked reservations at a well-known restaurant just steps from the hotel, Simpsons on the Strand.

Heading out for Christmas Eve Dinner,
Savoy Hotel lobby,

We dined late that night, and by the time we arrived back in the hotel room it was dark outside. The butler assigned to our suite had left the makings for tea, as they usually did, so we sat and had tea by the light of the tree in our room. We had asked them to provide a tree, and not only had they done that they had provided a tree and baskets of decorations, so we had a real tree to enjoy, just like at home.

As the evening grew late we knew it was time for bed, but couldn't resist some photos of the Thames from our hotel room. When we went to sleep this is what we saw out the windows of our Edwardian-style room :

It's hard to put into words how it felt to look out that window over the Thames and to see London on that night. It's hard to explain how the experience is forever burned in my mind, or how I suspect I will always carry memories of last Christmas with me. It's hard to tell you, dear friends, because sometimes words just don't convey the feelings very well, and even pictures fail to do it. I can tell you this : today I woke up and started the day with coffee in my Union Jack-emblazoned mug. I went down and sat in front of my British-themed Christmas tree while I ate a raspberry scone covered in clotted cream. I thought about last Christmas, the special memories made, and about how the memories of every Christmas can be ones we carry with us every year, right to the end of our lives. 

My Union Jack mug - and the Snoring Scooby Doo
my daughter insisted on buying when she was 4!

I might not be able to put it into words, but Christmas is clearly a special form of magic, whether at home or overseas. It's magic whether you spend it right where you always have, or in a country you've never before visited. Christmas isn't in a place - it's in your heart, right along with all the memories of Christmases past, and visions of Christmases future. That's where Christmas resides, dear friends, and that is right where it belongs.

This song is played all over London during
the Christmas season. Today I present it to you,
dear friends, with my wishes for a very 
Merry Christmas! :)

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