Yes, it’s July, but my mind is already drifting to the end-of-year holidays. I just love London at Christmastime. The decorations, the smoky smell of roasting chestnuts, the sidewalk kiosks selling mulled wine. I love to sit at Covent Garden, sipping a hot beverage and listening to whatever the street performers are singing as I watch Londoners scurry by with packages under their arms. I love to walk down Oxford Street at night as it blazes with cheeky holiday lights. (My favorite was the year the decorations were sponsored by Marmite, and flashing cartoon elves alternated between tumbling into a jar of Marmite and vomiting into a little elf hat, the glowing tagline, “Marmite: You Either Love It or Hate It.”)
I love the elaborate window displays in the shops lining Regent Street and the feel of the crisp morning breeze. I even love how the city shuts down, not only on Christmas but also on the 26th, Boxing Day. Masses of tourists congregate at Trafalgar Square, but the rest of London is quiet, peaceful. Maybe it’s because on the streets there are no cars nor buses, no people nor pets, but the air smells different those days, brighter and more hopeful.
Some people say there’s nothing quite like New York City at Christmas. That may be. But you can have the Big Apple, I’ll take London on Christmas or any other day of the year.