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  • Writer's pictureLaura Berni

A Very 448 West-End Christmas

Hello friends and welcome to what could be defined as the “Christmas Special” episode of this blog!

Isn’t this the weirdest Christmas ever?

About 9 months ago all our lives stopped… and they kinda stayed there. However, now that Sir Ian McKellen has gotten the vaccine, I feel much more positive. “You shall not pass!” Certainly, Covid-19 cannot be stronger than a Balrog of Morgoth. Apart from making me clearly nerdier than ever, these Holidays have brought with them a strange atmosphere.

This is the first year that I will spend Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve in Scotland, away from my family. It’s a strange thought to adapt to. One assumes Christmases to all follow the same scheme. It is in those traditions that we find our Christmas spirit. There is an aura of magic in the repetition of the same small tasks year by year, to mark once again our revolution around the sun. I am not religious, but I love the festivities. Isn’t it cute how as humans we find ways of making the most challenging times better with celebrations? Yule was originally just that. As the nights grew longer and colder, people would light fires and hold celebrations for the return of the sun. In the darkest days of the winter solstice, we focused on the return of the light, and the beginning of a new year.

I find this a marvellous way of greeting this year’s celebrations. We have gone through one of the most challenging years of our lives, but we must look forward to the future with bright hope and maybe use Christmas as the mood-boost we all need right now.

I am approaching this Christmas with the most Christmassy spirit in years. Learning to appreciate the small things and re-discovering those activities that Made Christmas so special for me when I was a child.

Yes, I have bought a tree. It’s tiny and scrawny and even the guy selling it to me defined it as “With character”. I don’t really have any decorations to put up, so I bought some fairy lights (as a good white girl), but the rest will be made from bits and bobs I can find around the house. I am listening to Spotify’s “Christmas Classics” and “Christmas Hits” on repeat, skipping the same songs every time. My 2020 favourite is “Driving home for Christmas”, which is pretty ironic since I won’t be going anywhere at all. Michael Bublé is playing all the time, not only because we all know he only comes out of his cave on the 1st of December, but also because my mum absolutely loves him, and it reminds me of home. For the first time in ages, I am writing Christmas cards and buying lots of presents for my friends and family.

Instead of focusing on what we cannot do, I have decided to focus on what I can do. I have found, there is so much to do, that I can barely fit everything in my schedule. And it looks lovely, by the way. I made space for puzzles, Christmas Movies, baking biscuits, trying to make mulled wine, learning new dishes… My usual 2020 lockdown activities of Brunching and trying to go to the gym are almost hard to fit in! (Well, exercising more than munching). I have turned into the Italian Nonna I aspire to be. My flatmates and I have planned a lovely Christmas time with our friends, in the hope that two households will be able to join for the holidays. I have called it “Stray’s Xmas”. Is this what people call adulting, maybe?

Having to cook your own food and organise a Christmas meal? Well, I must say I am loving it. It is way more challenging than what my Italian Nonna would expect though. We are Millennials after all, and we cannot have a normal meal. This time, the dietary requirements of the people involved (which by the way, are actually very few) are so specific that the only way to deal with them is to laugh. Not only do we need vegan and vegetarian options, but we will also have to be careful of people with a severe nut allergy, seafood allergy, dairy intolerance, and gluten intolerance. This Christmas cannot get more West-End.

So it’s not all bad. Sure, I will have to Zoom my family and someone will definitely burn something and set off the fire alarm. But I feel like we’ve grown together in these challenges. And for the first time, I can get drunk on mulled wine without feeling guilty.

Dan and I want to wish everyone the happiest of Christmases and a fantastic New Year.

Lots of Love



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