Today I would like to tell you a story. Once upon a time, as early as Thursday morning, I woke up and had a cup of tea sitting on my bed. I could already feel the excitement of the Christmas holidays as I smiled in the darkness of my room. That was my last day of work before Christmas so I stood up, dressed in the best jumper I have and headed to the tube, which was pleasantly less crowded than usual. If you live in London and catch the tube at 8 am, you would know how bad, smelly, crowded, sweaty and noisy an experience that can be. It’s the only thing I don’t like about this city. So when I arrived at the station and there was no queue to get through the barriers, where you have to tap your travel card and get to the platform, I was very happy. But when the tube arrived and it was half empty, I was bewildered.
That’s how I arrived at work early, had a second tea and a piece of cake that a couple of colleagues brought from a trip around UK and started my day. I worked hard and then at 6 pm left the office and went to the gym with L. He’s my personal trainer now, he knows a lot of exercises and which machines to use to train which muscles. That day was an upper-body-training day, therefore, we pushed the muscles of our back and arms to the limit, then decided to stay for a class that was all about abs. We headed to the studio, that is a room filled with mirrors, waited for the teacher to arrive and worked out for half an hour longer than expected. At the end of the session we were devastated but pretty happy, which is why we decided to have a drink to celebrate it. After all, it’s pretty unusual for me to sweat and burn some calories TWICE in a week.
There’s a place I really like not too far from our gym that is called The Otherist. The reason I like it is that even though it’s stylish and classy, it’s not overcrowded and you can hear the person you are talking to, plus the drinks are fresh and well made. We stayed there for half an hour, long enough for me to realise that there were 5 days of holidays ahead, I mean, F I V E, not just 4 as I thought, then went to sleep.
On Friday I woke up and felt confused, out of tune, misplaced, like an Amazon parcel that was dispatched to the wrong planet. I looked around the house and it didn’t feel like it was Christmas at all. Yes, there were my Christmas treecandles in the living-room and the cinnamon por-pourri (from Sainsbury’s) in the kitchen but that was it. No lights, no tinsels, not even Christmas carols in my playlist, nothing. I stared for a moment at the white and red Christmas tree candles my mom sent me to match the green one I bought, sipped my tea, then decided it was time to do something.
Firstly, I cleaned the house and loaded the washing machine to put my mind at rest and marked the housecleaning as checked from the list of things to do during the holidays. Once that was done, I opened the box of Christmas decorations we found in the house when we came in. Inside there was some golden tinsel, a string of colourful lights and Christmas balls: that was all I needed. I used the tinsel to decorate the stairs that separate our kitchen from the living room and used the Christmas balls to decorate the prints I bought in Paris last year. L gave me some white led lights he used for a photoshoot to make the big windows next to couch shine. By then, our home was looking sweeter and cosier, as every home should when it’s Christmas time.
At about 10 am I was feeling full of energy and needed some fresh air so I put on my big furry coat and headed to Brixton. I love that suburb because it’s always vibrant, energetic and colourful. In Brixton you can find pubs, restaurants, market stalls, high street shops, cinemas and clubs filled with all sorts people from all over the world. It’s the place of The Misplaced like me.
In Brixton, I had a look at some shops that sell homeware but could not find anything I loved in there. I then remembered I saw a Christmas tree I liked at Tesco some weeks before. I normally don’t shop in that supermarket because I am not a big fan of their products, but that tree was beautiful though a bit too expensive. It was a 210 cm tree with different types of needles which made it look very natural. I decided to have a look at their Christmas section anyway and found that the tree I liked was actually 50% off! There were few left so I grabbed one straight away, however heavy it was. A woman saw me and told me it was quite late to buy a tree, I answered saying I was glad I waited as it was half % off and her eyes widened in surprise. A very kind lady at the cashier helped me lift the box to the counter to be able to purchase it.
By then I realised that box was too heavy for me to bring it home by myself, even if we live close by. I needed help. Thankfully, L was working from home so I called him, he sounded happy I actually found a bargain
since I usually spend too much on anything. I managed to get out of Tesco with my box and then stood up there on the footway for 20 minutes, waiting for L. In the meantime, a guy walked by and asked me if I needed a hand ( no, he wasn’t as charming and handsome as he would have been in the movies). I told him I was alright, he smiled and handed me a Kinder Bueno! I refused at first but he insisted saying I needed some energy if I was going to carry that tree home, so I accepted it and ate it while waiting. Finally, L arrived and we brought the tree home, where I opened it while talking with my little brother on video call.
That is how we ended up having a proper tree and a decorated house which feels more like Christmas in just one day. I am extremely grateful to the landlord, who left some decorations in the apartment before renting it, and to Tesco and their sales team. I’m also thankful to Whetherspoon because that night we went to one of their pubs for a nice meal and was glad to eat good food in a big, clean, well decorated, traditional English pub alongside a glass of wine.
I think English people prefer to buy real trees each year, which makes sense because the weather here is perfect to grow them, while in Italy we just use the same fake tree over and over again, year after year, until it becomes part of the family even though it’s there with us only for one month in winter. I love the idea of having bought a fake tree here in London that will follow us through our life and will remind us how incredibly lucky we are now. We did sent Christmas cards though, properly blending the traditions of the places we have lived in.
Now I literally can’t wait to open all the little cute boxes under the tree! We’ve never exchanged gifts properly in the past, but this year we’ve gone all in! We already have a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge, we just need to wait and enjoy our time here at home.
Happy Christmasto you all, my belovedreaders!