On the 19th day of Christmas…

19 December

Today’s Advent piece comes from Olivia Red O’Brien, who writes here about the magic of Christmas in the capital.

For most, a picturesque Christmas equates to some sort of log cabin or country retreat with a roaring fire and a honey roast ham. For me, the perfect Christmas sits right here in the capital amidst the concrete and cold.

From the moment the Starbucks Christmas cups are seen floating through the streets, London officially enters the festive season and we have permission to smile again. The heating on the tube is turned up and Christmas songs start to play in the shops; everyone’s happy. And although the Christmas lights and the sparkling hue across the city from Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland make for the perfect holiday card, it’s the people that make spending Christmas in the capital, the best by far.

But amidst the city’s population however, you’ll find the homeless. And although saddening to see people alone on the streets, particularly at this time of year, its heart warming to see the festive offerings made to them ranging from boxes of mince pies to generous gifts of money. Now, understandably, not everyone has the capacity to take in those without families this Christmas, however I rest safe in the knowledge that at this time of year, those in need are surrounded by more people than usual and are thus a little safer and less lonely at Christmas. Also this year there are tons of charities selflessly working through the party season to ensure the safety of others: each of these worthy of your time and money, so get involved.

And once the giving is over, it’s time to celebrate. And what more perfect way to do so than ice skating? It has become an age old tradition and with the choice of around five different London rinks to choose from, you can partake in an ‘Ice Crawl’ and hone your skills before the end of January. The opportunities to ice skate in the city not only makes for the perfect date (with the excuse to cuddle up), but tickets also make for the perfect Christmas present! And if that doesn’t warm your cockles, then a crisp stroll around St James’ Park can only be ‘out-Christmassed’ by a leisurely stroll around Central Park: a worthy opponent in my eyes.

So although spending the festive season in rural Britain means long walks across scattered fields of snow, woollen scarves and a plain upon which it’s acceptable to wear mittens at the age of 22, it’s not 1901. And you’re not Lizzie Bennett. So from Harrods to Highgate, if you’re spending Christmas in the capital, I urge you to enjoy it.

And if a London Christmas has never appealed to you? Watch Love Actually and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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