We all knew the holidays were going to hit a little differently this time. 2020 was anything but the year we saw coming and while we’d planned to be back in the states for Christmas, we knew it wasn’t safe to travel.
So, Craig took the week off and we used the time to both relax and work on decorating the apartment. We hung pictures, rearranged some furniture and caught up on our favorite podcasts as we worked. London was moved back into Tier 4 and many people left town, which made it pretty quiet. With no snow on the ground and our artificial tree back in storage, it honestly didn’t feel like Christmas, but I gave it my best shot by ordering up a ton of food and booze from Waitrose.
I took my first crack at roasting a stuffed duck, which turned out amazing:
Funny enough, we had duck on our first Christmas in Tokyo, as well. I think we’ll stick with it each year.
But the big test came in the form of traditional Christmas pudding with a candied orange hidden in the middle:
I steamed that baby for three hours and after a few servings (we’re still nowhere near finishing it), I have to say it’s grown on me.
With the mince pies, champagne, mulled wine and all the other trimmings, I definitely overcompensated. But our hearts needed a bit of extra care this year (just don’t tell my doctor about the duck).
Spending Christmas away from loved ones is never easy. And this year, with all of the trauma and batshit crazy stuff that happened, we needed our loved ones more than ever. But as someone who has spent more than one holiday far away from family, I can reassure anyone doing it for the first time of one thing: You will get up the next day and be OK. Yes, that day, maybe that entire week will suck. It will hurt. But you will get through it.
And you know what? Along the way, you may develop some unique traditions of your own that come to be precious. Craig and I miss our families terribly right now, but we also found the joy in our private, quiet Christmas together. I took my time cooking our big Christmas Eve dinner, we didn’t have to rush to be anywhere or coordinate running from house to house. We kept to our tradition of ordering Chinese food on Christmas Day and he, once again, put Disaronno in my stocking. We watched movies and far too many episodes of The Crown and just enjoyed each other’s company between many wonderful FaceTime sessions.
We ended the week with a long walk in Hyde Park, taking a moment to stop by Round Pond (pictured above) for a moment of quiet gratitude.
In short, it’s hard. These lyrics Judy Garland sings in “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” brought me to tears:
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now
[Swallows lump in throat.]
But it’s not all bad. And I hope you were able to find some silver linings in however you (safely) celebrate the holidays this year. Those silver linings can be hard to spot right now, but trust me, they’re there. Grab onto them. Wrap yourself in them. They will get you through.
Happy Holidays. Stay well.