Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the ubiquitous Christmas curfuffle

It's been a weird week. On Saturday it snowed and snowed and snowed. The airport couldn't handle it so it shut down and people have been stranded at Heathrow ever since. I've been obsessed with the weather because I'm supposed to fly to Germany on Friday morning, which means I haven't really done much on my essay that's due after the break. To be honest I haven't really done much of anything.

Everything feels odd right now, right on the cusp of Christmas. There's a lot of stress in the air, especially by the British Library, which is right next to the main international train station. There's a queue wrapped around the block, people waiting to get on a train to get home for Christmas. There's also people stressing over the holiday in general. People trying to get to parties, trying to buy gifts, trying to stay happy. There isn't really a lighthearted Christmas cheer in the air, but there is a quiet perseverance, a stubborn resolve to stay cheerful for the holidays. That's admirable, really. Maybe that's what the true meaning if Christmas is: a stubborn resolve to make it through to the New Year.

It's an amazingly difficult time of year. The weather is at its worst right when most people want to travel. Everyone is sick (including me. I've had this stupid annoying cough since Saturday). No one has any money, and yet we're all expected to buy gifts for the people we love. People who are alone feel especially lonely. And yet we're supposed to try our very hardest to stay Christmassy. In an article for the Observer, David Mitchell, one of my favorite comedy actors/writers, comments on this issue I think rather astutely:

Santa knows I'm not the first person to say this but the problem with the mass-produced goodwill of the modern Christmas, where we're constantly wished happiness by carrier bags, receipts, coffee cups and TV channel idents, is that it can feel like a denial of all the things we're fed up or angry about. Charities exhort us to "think of those less fortunate than ourselves" while corporations rub our noses in goodies only affordable by those more fortunate. We're expected to endure stressful family gatherings and gruelling catering tribulations and count ourselves lucky in the process.
It's a tricky thing to do, and I'm not sure why yet we do it. Well, I'm trying my damnedest to stay Christmassy and cheerful, even though I'm freaking out about my trip falling through, not seeing my best friend, and losing all the money I've put into it. Saturday and Sunday were Part A and Part B of a nice Christmas party. We got full, had loads of leftovers on Saturday and so decided to come back on Sunday and finish it all up. The only downside to the weekend was that horrible storm on Saturday. I was out in the snow for 2 hours, not wearing enough clothes, not having an umbrella and getting completely soaked through. Someone smacked me in the face with their umbrella, I got lost, the plans I had made for the afternoon fell through. All of that was pretty stressful and I don't think I was able to flip my mood around and be super happy the rest of the evening.

I remember at one point, however, when I was finally on the homestretch to my friend's apartment, trudging through the snow, I thought "This what Christmas has always been about: trudging through the snow, being cold and miserable, on the way to a warm house full of friendly faces. People have been doing this for hundreds of years, I can do it now."

Another attempt to stay cheery may have worked a little better. I got the last two tickets to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play a Christmas concert last night, and it was just delightful. The music was lovely, the company was lovely, the dinner before hand was super tasty. I finally got to see Harrods all lit up and pretty and I got to see a part of town I haven't seen yet. The concert was really fun, and it was partly a sing-a-long which I just love. It ended up being a really nice, Christmassy evening.

The next few days are probably not going to be so cheery. Fortunately, it looks as if the airports and airlines are finally getting back on track. Lufthansa Flight 921, the same one I'll be taking on Friday, was not cancelled today and actually arrived before schedule in Frankfurt. It looks as if all the Lufthansa flights are going, so that's very promising. The one thing I am worried about now is that the flight leaves at 6:20, and the earliest I can get to the airport by train is 5:00 am, which I think would have been enough time if there weren't 60,000 stranded people milling about the place like zombies. So, if my flight is confirmed, I think the best thing would be to take the tube out there on Thursday night. This is going to suck really bad, but I have to give myself plenty of time to get through the whole mess. The crappiest part of that plan is that I'm getting sick and have already not been sleeping much the last few nights because of a cough. Well, I guess today I'll be cold medicine shopping.

As far as doing anything else today, I don't think I will. I'll just carry on as if I'm flying on Friday and get all packed and ready to go. If I do decided to take the tube out tomorrow night and I'm all ready, I have a ticket for a screening of Scott Pilgrim with a Q&A with Edgar Wright. That's in Brixton at 8, and it might be good to have something distracting and fun for a couple of hours. I can do that, come home and get my stuff and head to the airport.

So there you have it. The ubiquitous Christmas curfuffle. I noticed last night some of the original lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" were interesting: "Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." And so that's what I wish for all of you, may you muddle through this Holiday Season with as much stubborn resolve as possible. We'll get through it, it will be over soon. I promise.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this post. one of the reasons why I did not want to stay in nyc for christmas was because of all the stress felt in the air. yes, nyc is pretty in christmas, blah blah blah, but people are all running around like crazy and to be honest, it all seems so depressing to me. i miss how christmas used to be when i was younger. it was more magical and exciting. but maybe when i have children it will go back to that. who knows.