Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas in London

A faithful MarathonMum reader wrote in, wanting to hear all about Christmas in London. So for my friends near and far, here's a taste of what our past month has been like:

A visit to Santa:
Thing One and Thing Two had a day off from school on 3 December, so we took the opportunity to go see Santa at Selfridges, one of the nicest department stores in London. Lucky for us, Santa at Selfridges has joined the 21st century and we could book our time slot online. It was a fantastic experience. A snowy grotto with animatronic animals greeted us, before we boarded a TRAIN (a miniature one, but still) to go see Santa himself. Time Out London agreed with me and said it was the best Santa experience in all of London. Afterwards, I stole a tradition from a friend of mine and took the boys to the Christmas department where they each go to pick out an ornament: Thing One chose a bird in Santa's boot, and Thing Two chose a St. Nicholas. It was magical.

I thought about going to see Santa at Harrod's. But only because a few years ago I took my brother there in December and he thought it was the best Christmas display he had ever seen in a department store. Every year since, he's asked me if we went to Harrod's this year. I don't have the heart to tell him that only tourists go to Harrod's. So I did originally try to book us in to see Santa there that day. But they were booked up even when I checked more than a month before we wanted to go. Apparently, Harrods started taking reservations in August, but that just seems wrong to me. So we didn't get to see the Harrods Santa. We did have a walk around Harrods (post-Selfridges) and the boys LOVED the toy department. But I still maintain that no self-respecting Londoner would actually shop there on a regular basis.

Parties, parties and more parties
We spent a good part of the month attending parties, and we probably went to about 15 in all (which explains the paucity of posts this month). Class parties, family parties, company parties, Cub Scout parties, swimming parties, pilates parties: you name it, we probably went to a party for it. Unfortunately, going to so many parties sort of sucks the party spirit out of you. When told that Thing One had a Cub party the following day, my knee-jerk (emphasis on jerk) response was, "Not another sodding party!"

London, all dressed up
One of the nice things about having Christmas in London is all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. Here in Greenwich, they started a new Christmas tradition of Advent Windows: every day in December, a different house decorated a window (or in some fine cases, many windows) and they were assigned a day to "open" their window, like a live Advent calendar. It was wonderful. If I get a chance (ha ha ha) I will try to post pictures of some of my favourites.

Thing One and I were also lucky enough to sort-of see the lighting of the tree at Trafalgar Square. It was the night we were lucky enough to score tickets to see the "Sound of Music", and we were in the bus, passing the unlit tree, but there were scores of people surrounding it, as though something was about to happen. Sure enough, when we were on the bus on the way back a few hours later, the tree was all lit up, looking very Christmasy. (Though I have to say that the Jersey Girl in me still thinks the tree in Rockafeller Plaza is still WAY BETTER. Sorry.)

Our Leading Man
Every Christmas Eve for the past five years, our church does a children's nativity, and Thing One and Two have played a part in it since the beginning. We've had heavy experience in the role of "Shepard", but this year, the organizer called to ask (a bit hestitantly, it should be sasid) if perhaps Thing One would be interested in playing Joseph. Would he ever! He went on to tell me that the parents of the first girl he asked to be Mary had turned him down because it wasn't a speaking role. I almost told him I would be Mary, since I was passed over when I was 8. They made me head angel. Bah. It's an oversight that still stings to this day. But they found a Mary in the end, and Joseph (and one of his faitful shepards, Thing Two) did a wonderful job.

Christmas Recovery
Finally, the best Christmas tradition to be had in London has got to be Boxing Day. It's also known as "The Servant's Christmas" because that was the day the servants got their boxes with presents inside, and they also got the day off. I like to think of Boxing Day as "Mom's Recovery Day". On that day, we share our traditional Boxing Day meal of Pizza and the Standage-McKees. This year, I started a new tradition: The Two-Hour Nap. Long may it continue.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas season.

1 comment:

RandomReality said...

That was lovely! Thank you for all the details. I knew you would write this well. The little train to Santa sounds just like the monorail in the toy department at Wanamaker's in downtown Philly. Remember that?

Miss you. Hugs from Quigs.