A Christmas Story :: How I Turned Into the Grinch (and I’m off to London & Edinburgh!)

The Christmas Market in Old Town Square, Prague.
The Christmas Market in Old Town Square.

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Essentially I used to love it… and now I hate it. I know it’s supposed to be the hap-happiest time of the year, but all I want for Christmas is to deck the hall-lights out of overeager shoppers and avoid it completely.

Which is why this year I’m dashing through the snow to London and Edinburgh (but more on that below).

How I Turned Into the Grinch (and I’m off to London & Edinburgh!)

The decked out halls of the Peninsula in Chicago.
The decked out halls of the Peninsula in Chicago.

A Christmas Story

When I was little, just like every other kid, I used to count down the days til Christmastime with an anticipation unmatched by any other month of the year. I loved Christmas — It was the most wonderful time of the year. I’d excitedly decorate my family tree with my mom, then spend the night at each of my aunts’ houses decorating theirs.

My mom and I would bake Christmas cookies, delicately adding frosting and sprinkles to each one while drinking eggnog and, when I got older, wine. My brothers and I would wrap gifts for each other using odd boxes or weird ribbon in attempt to make each other laugh before opening their present, trying to outdo each other.

My dad and I would take turns playing Christmas songs on the piano, me playing the easy version and him playing the difficult version of the same song. We’d help each other through odd chords or tricky time signatures. Years later it switched and I’d play the advanced version while he played the classic version. It was one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Anti-Christmas Cookies.
Anti-Christmas Cookies. [Via Instagram, circa 2012]

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

But time has a funny way of changing things. And somewhere between the holly and the ivy, I went from rockin’ around the Christmas tree to annoyed by the commercialization of it.

Anger turned to annoyance and annoyance morphed into Grinch-level hatred. I baked Christmas cookies in the shape of hands flipping the bird, I refused to listen to holiday music, much less play it myself. One year it was all I could do to survive December 25th, then I flew to Washington, DC for a week of silent nights alone.

Christmas in Los Angeles.
Christmas in Los Angeles.

Christmas Vacation

And that started my Christmas tradition of traveling. The next year I flew to Prague on Christmas Eve so that by the time I landed, Christmas day almost didn’t exist. (Even I admit that’s some next-level Scrooge hatred!) I spent the week wandering Good King Wenceslas Square and drinking cheap Pilsner, then jingled all the way to Vienna for the New Year’s Eve Ball at the Hofburg Palace.

Now that I live in Chicago and my family is still in Salt Lake City, my hatred for the holiday has lightened slightly. But I’ve yet to sing “I’ll be home for Christmas.” A part of me feels guilty, realizing that maybe the reality of Christmas is that it’s a stressful, expensive way to distract everyone from the shortest (and literal darkest) days of the year. The other part loves the excuse to escape to new worlds, decorated in all their sparkling, Christmasy glory.

Christmas tree in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
Christmas tree in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

It’s a Wonderful Life

This year I’m journeying across the pond to have a holly jolly Christmas in England and Scotland. I’ll be eating my way through London and before you tell me there’s no good food in England, hold your jingle bells. I’m determined to have some fantastic food and already have plenty of dinner reservations intending to prove doubters wrong!

I’ll be seeing the opera and the ballet, having afternoon tea and Indian curry, exploring museums and castles, and counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve at a 2 Michelin Starred restaurant known for their futuristic bathrooms, outstanding bar and artsy interior.

Squished in between, I’m taking a sleigh ride (er, train) to Edinburgh for a few days to drink as much scotch as possible, summon up the courage to taste haggis and explore the city by the sea.

Christmas in Santa Barbara.
Last year’s Christmas in Santa Barbara.

I hope your holidays are filled with wonderful food, delicious drinks and great gatherings with those you care about (or enjoying time alone, if you prefer). No matter what, have yourself a merry little Christmas.

If you’d like, follow along with my journey on instagram and facebook and keep an eye out for the #grinchGetaway2017 hashtag. :)

Cheers! And thank you, as always, for reading Random Acts of Kelliness.

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