A tradition they have in London that we really don’t do where I come from is Advent calendars. I’ve seen them in stores before, but I don’t know anyone who has mentioned using an Advent calendar when we’ve shared holiday traditions. The concept is simple enough: open the little door labelled with the date to see a simple festive picture and get a little chocolate. Cute! After doing some research, I made my own Advent calendar with an extra step or two. In each little drawer (rather than little door) is a chocolate, a movie title, and a book title. (The cute image is on the drawer itself.) The movies and books are suggestions for Christmas-themed media to consume that day. Today, for example, my suggestions are the book and the movie Elf Pets: An Arctic Fox Tradition, so I will check out one of those later on today. The Elf on the Shelf was a sweet book, but I found the reindeer one rather weak even for a picture book. We’ll see how the fox fares. I shuffled the titles to keep it a surprise for myself every day, but other options include the Harry Potter series, Elf, “Yes, Virginia,” A Christmas Carol, and many more. I have a couple options that won’t appeal to all ages (like Diehard or the Elf on the Shelf series), but this is just for me. I enjoy whimsy, especially as we get closer to the holidays. The other thing in the Advent calendar drawer is a slip of paper with an activity suggestion. Not all days have this paper – just the ones with a day-specific thing to do. For example, the Elf on the Shelf is meant to arrive on the first of the month. The first day of winter is December 21, so a paper in that day’s drawer will remind me to celebrate the longest night and the return of the sun the next morning. I love Yuletide, and having an extra bit of fun to add to a time of year I already enjoy is a true delight.
We went to several Christmas markets in London in the last couple weeks. Borough Market is a gorgeous year-round food market. I wanted to try everything! Will definitely be going back. Covent Garden is beautiful but very expensive and touristy. Looking only. The Southbank Centre Winter Market was only about ten stalls. The food smelled divine, but it was so tiny AND smack in the middle of a VERY touristy area. Selfridges Christmas Market was about eight food trucks, a MAC makeup stall, and a slide. I don’t recommend Southbank or Selfridges markets. Very disappointing. Leadenhall Market was beautiful to look at but not really more than a pretty shopping center and place for businessmen to have lunch. Leicester Square Christmas Market was exactly what I was looking for when I imagined a Christmas market: nice food, handmade gifts, and festive music. Truly lovely.
Most recently we went to Mark Gatiss’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. We loved it! Spookier, funnier, and more inclusive than any production I’ve ever seen of the Dickens classic. It’s just not Yuletide for me until I see A Christmas Carol.
After some searching, I found tinned pumpkin, corn syrup, and pecans for a less extortionate rate than I originally feared. We missed out at Thanksgiving, but we will have pumpkin pie and chocolate bourbon pecan pie for Yule! I’m very excited about this. My sweet Cockneys were impressed by my pumpkin pie at Halloween, so I know that will be a hit. And if the pecan pie doesn’t wow them, more for me! Ha! We’ve already stocked up and preordered a ton of food for the holidays and finished Christmas shopping and wrapping, so we should be able to enjoy December without the stress that plagues many people. With everything going on in the world – and in the UK specifically – it’s nice to know we won’t have to fight crowds for any limited resources. The local council was even handing out free lateral flow tests yesterday. Happy holidays!