London, Xmas season. Christmas is truly a season here. Cocktail parties every night of the week give way to dinner parties followed by family get-togethers the closer Christmas comes. It’s dark at 3:45 so the twinkly lights begin from half way through your shopping day and carol singers gather on the high street corner in the midst of all the chaos. There is an energy of celebration in London, even with the end of the financial year taking on the role of Scrooge. The life of this season reaches further than the pound can anyway. Maybe it’s the coming together of the cold and picturesque city covered in tinsel, the roaring fires, the bare trees dancing next to iced ponds, even all the pubs look warm and cozy…Christmas just suits London.
Walking into our home was exhilarating. The boys raced up and down and all around the house finding their toys, rediscovering their rooms and screaming up and down the lane for our neighbors to come out and see them. They couldn’t be happier. Last time our arrival was disastrous with the stolen bag so this time for some weird reason I decided to deal with my lost-in-the-LA-move mobile and get straight on the phone with Vodafone. Husband looked at me like I was an idiot, and he was right. I couldn’t be more tired, and emotional, and yet had to deal with a corporation and their customer service in India, now?? Well, I did and then I went upstairs and collapsed into bed.
Part of having Husband travel before me that is incredible is how he sets up the house – market, heating, the works – so we can all arrive and relax. However hard it is traveling with four boys on my own, the trade-off comes when I can nap, wake up to a cooked meal and then just hang out. Apparently the weather’s been mild throughout November and even to our beach bones, it’s not that bad now. We went out for dinner and there were fourteen variations of mushrooms on the menu which had to do with the mild autumn. I love being somewhere small enough that you’re eating the results of that month’s weather.
We have two weeks here to see, touch, taste everything which is way too short and now I write at the end of it all feeling quite bereft as time has ticked by all too quickly. From the moment I arrive at Heathrow, I unzip my European self and step out of my skin into a new one. I am myself, but different. And so are my boys. Each of them shifts into their English behaviour, playing and watching endless football matches, taking the bus everywhere on their own, spending their pounds at the Newsagent buying Lucazade sports drink and eating Shreddies. Even the Tooth Fairy becomes English, so says my little one who currently has no front teeth.
Our Xmas celebration is a four day extravaganza spent at my sister-in-laws. They cook every meal, we drink from midday and delight in doing absolutely nothing but talking, walking, eating, dancing to the odd Neil Diamond song, and boozing it up. The kids flop alongside us and the time is completely spent relaxing. There aren’t a lot of families who can live in eachother’s pockets without any dramas for that long, and we all cherish it.
The rest of our days were spent at home, when Monday became Wednesday and now it’s New Year’s Day. We finally landed a tenant after the last one fell through which meant that I have spent the majority of my time packing this week. And crying. Weeping, actually, on one day in particular. A friend said that the tears represent my emotional attachment to every little thing in my house because I no longer live here, thus the importance placed on material items. She’s not wrong, but I’d add that there is significant meaning in my ‘stuff’ here because it’s 20 years of all the stages of my life here, and when Husband declared either store it or throw it, it became very clear that I wasn’t ready to purge.
I lied to him and said that yes, it’s been beneficial to clear out and get rid of stuff, but the truth is I hoard, I’m a hoarder, and purging/throwing/chucking/clearing out my belongings isn’t part of my nature. How can I possibly throw out my collection of random wrapping paper that I will definitely use one day, and equally, how can I pay to store it which makes no financial sense either???
In the end, meaning literally now as I have packed my last box, I cheated and stuffed my tiny attic with so much I’ll never be able to find anything in order to avoid the demonic notion of choosing between expensive storage and dumping. It all feels relevant; all pieces to my life’s puzzle. Okay, except the Batman with the missing limbs. I’ll give Husband that one.
And tomorrow it’s back on the plane to LA where our new home awaits. I feel like I’m leaving in the middle of something. Just as life takes off here I must go. My two worlds are only one day apart and I’ll be sleeping tonight at the beach. Surreal, really. And all very real indeed.
Happy New Year and thanks for reading.
If not for my Christmas LA pressie (Yea!) and your wonderfully-worded reflections of a London Christmas, I would have felt completely removed from your recent visit. Instead, connections are strong. Sorry I missed you, honey!