My family doesn’t really do holidays.
We aren’t much of a traditionalist clan and growing up Christmas was always more of a financial burden than a joy in our household, so we just stopped taking part once I reached middle school. After surviving my melodramatic years of present-envy and embarrassment as friends would ask what I received under the tree over winter break, my young adult holidays were spent tagging along with an ex-boyfriend’s family. When we broke up a few years ago, my default Christmas and Thanksgiving plans left with him. Fortunately I have amazing friends who have stepped in to make me feel included in their family festivities if I’m not already putting together an Orphan’s Christmas with other friends far from their families. Buuuut, to be perfectly honest, it’s still a really weird season for me, so the days between November and January 1 have become my least favorite time of the year.
That is, until last year.
I decided to reclaim the sad season by booking my first international flight and recruiting one of my most adventurous friends to explore London and Paris. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. It was cold and exhausting and we both ended up with the flu on our flights home, but we also ate some of the most delicious food, wandered with no destination or purpose other to to see as damn much as possible, went to a neighborhood pub near our Airbnb in Notting Hill, stood within 5 feet of Oliver Platt AND Aisha Tyler, made too many photos of all the damn swans in Hyde Park, conspired with hostesses, made new friends on a bar crawl in the 11th, ogled at beautiful Parisian men, danced the night away on New Year’s with new friends in Paris (which I count as some of the best days of my life), and ended our trip battling sickness in East London before flying home.
My only flaw was arriving in London on Christmas Day — a day which all public transit drivers are luckily able to spend with their families — causing me to jump in a painfully expensive black cab in my sleepy, jet-lagged stupor. My best choice? Sitting for hours at the only restaurant open near where I was staying while listening to jubilant families sing holiday songs and starting a new tradition with myself: lasagna and Negronis on Christmas Day.
Also, can we discuss how eerily quiet and empty London is on Christmas Day? It was quite an experience to have my first time meeting Piccadilly Circus be at 9am on Christmas Day (as you’ll see below) and save for a few lone bikers and taxis, there wasn’t a soul in sight. My next time venturing into the area was a little shocking, as it was Boxing Day (think Black Friday) and the crowds were bursting at the seams. Ha! It was annoying but it was great.
So, here’s to making the best of an unfortunate situation and finally inking up my Passport.
Maybe, hopefully, we’ll go somewhere warmer next year. ????
Visit the Print Shop, featuring some of the prints below.