Seems like old times. My children are asleep in the next room and I’m up early writing. The Three Musketeers are together again.
We spent a Happy Christmas in Merry Ole England, my first love as an English lit teacher when I began traveling abroad. My son wanted to see London, and my daughter has loved it since she, my niece, and I toured when they were in high school. I know the Brits know how to do the holidays. In fact, last week my English department coworkers and their wives got the festivities started. Nick, Anna and their gorgeous girls dressed in holiday frocks rang doorbells to surprise neighbors with plates of cookies and candies. Richard and Louise (below), hosted a Christmas party at their apartment, where I bought handmade gifts Louise makes for her business, Bodkin and Binca.
I couldn’t wait to smell and taste mulled wine at Christmas markets from Covent Garden to Camden. For weeks colleagues talked of seeing our families again and of eating our ways through our destinations. Whether spending Christmas in the US, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Singapore, Austria, or India all dreamed like Clare of sugarplum fairies and other creature comforts we don’t find in Africa.
My mission was to bring back vanilla, nutmeg, and other spices for baking and to stock up on snuggle wear for the winter. Thanks to a colleague who turned me onto Primark, I was able to fill a carryon of plush sweaters, a scarf and a robe for 5 GBPs each.
Here’s how our holiday began…
In order to meet Taylor and Cole at Heathrow on Christmas Eve, I had to take a flight on December 23. The Colonnade, my first “sight unseen” purchase from Priceline was amazing. For $95 USD I booked this 4-star Victorian gem. The doorman led me to a room where classical music was playing softly and fruit, coffees and teas, and cookies were spread. After dinner next door at the Prince Alfred, I enjoyed my two favorite guilty pleasures for the first time since August–sliding into a bubble bath (I have only a shower in Morocco), then slipping under a down comforter.
A child inspired Christmas. They say Christmas is for kids. My gift this year was kissing my children–now grown– again. We missed celebrating with the rest of the family but knew–even before we Skyped–that we are always together in spirit. Watching The Holiday, the movie that made me want to do this trip years ago, we waited for Father Christmas. For the first time ever, there would be no tangible gifts under the tree, but we’d awaken as we went to sleep–with joy, thanksgiving, and love.