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The Ghosts of Past Christmases

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style .....in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”  Well, that’s what the song says....but that’s not quite the case this year.

At least not the part about  “the air” and “the feeling” .....they both leave a lot to be desired!  Masks, social distancing and the news in general have made things much less festive.

My Favorite Holiday

This has always been my favorite holiday, but like many people around the world I find myself approaching December 25th with far less enthusiasm.  Nonetheless Christmas is still way up there in importance, so I need to think positively and lean on my memories from Christmases past.

While we always spend the actual holiday at home in Rhode Island with family, we are in Europe for those wonderful days leading up to the the big day.  There is nothing like European Cities just before Christmas.  

The outdoor markets, the carolers, the  traditional foods!    

Charles Dickens - Christmases Past

Europe at Christmastime always feels so “Dickensian”.  And speaking of Charles, let me start with his birthplace and my favorite city this time of year.  London is truly the most Christmasy place in the world! All the major streets are ablaze with the most stunning lights! 

The Charm of Christmases Past

Iconic department stores like Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty compete for the best holiday windows (spoiler alert: Fortnum & Mason always wins).  And those charming little alleys around central London  (believe me there are hundreds) look much like they did during Christmas in Victorian times.

(There is something about those tiny leaded-paned windows with real candles glowing in them that bring tears of nostalgia to the eyes.)

Riding Through London

Riding on top of a London bus is always special (especially if you can grab the front seats) but at Christmastime it is a truly wonderful experience. I sometimes hop on a bus even if I have no destination in mind....just to look at all the holiday magic.

The number 11 bus is the one to catch as it goes past all the “must-sees”:  St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.  

Christmas Walks

My favorite Christmas walk starts at Oxford Circus, goes down the majestic Regent Street and into Piccadilly where I always stop at Fortnum & Mason to check out the window displays (they never disappoint).  


Then I hold my breath as I jump into the crowded main floor (always teeming with tourists) in search of their trademark Christmas Pudding and Brandy Butter for our Christmas Day lunch. 

My next stop is the antiquarian bookstore, Sotherans, where I pick up a couple of vintage illustrated books for my grand-nieces (and always manage to find an irresistible first edition for myself!)

From there I hop on the number 19 bus, ride along Hyde Park, and jump off at Sloane Square for my walk down Kings Road ( ❤️) to our flat at number 333.  

Then, after washing my hands, (an automatic gesture these days 😉 ) I sit in front of the fire sipping a cup of Earl Grey and chomping on a crumpet with honey and think about what a perfect day I just had! 

So this year as I sit sipping tea by the fireplace at my house in Wickford, I have to be satisfied with my photos and memories of Christmases past.....and hope that in 2021 I will once again take a walk through the streets of London and be filled with Christmas cheer!

 


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