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When you think about it, most conversations about Christmas end up being a discussion about routines.

It turns out Christmas is personal: everyone has their own way of negotiating the most expectation-heavy time of the year, and that's before you even get to the day itself.

Routines are, quite frankly, the only way through a season which - if you put aside its calm, reflective, wholesome marketing campaign - actually has all the hallmarks of chaos: the crowds, the queues, the unnecessary travel, flashing lights and unpreditable weather, not to mention the entire country stockpiling food.

For our own sanity more than anything, we march into December armed with our Christmas ideals and a checklist of ways to achieve them: items to be bought, people to be seen, events to be arranged, decorations, presents and traditions to be packaged up and passed on. The assumption being that without them, without all these things, Christmas just wouldn't be the same.   

So if you're ever going to notice life changing in some way, then December will probably be the time. Some dinner tables will have noticable gaps, and others will have gained placemats. For all its clever shouting, December is no different to the rest of year. Plus, disruption just... happens: ask anyone who turned up at Gatwick Airport on Wednesday morning ready to get on a flight. 

Our family Christmas has changed a bit over the last few years because of my mum's dementia, but we're lucky enough to have good friends who don't mind entering the madhouse for a couple of days, and they go above and beyond to help us out. When something like dementia enters your family picture, expectations have to change. My personal stance is that if I don't end up hiding under the dining room table this year - long story, don't ask - Christmas will have been a success. 

But at least London is predictable, and every year it returns to form. Last night my bus home passed a man swaddled in blankets in a way that would seem cosy, if he hadn't been lying asleep on a bridge. It paused for a minute outside Leadenhall Market, which, at 6:30pm, was filled with hundreds of city workers drinking pints. At Liverpool Street, suitcases and bags rolled past wobbling groups in questionable jumpers heading out, and in Shoreditch, the glass fronts of bars were already fogged up, obscuring the parties inside.

In some ways, it was typical of Christmas. In others, it was just a city, doing what it does every year, going through its normal routine.

Read more thoughts from London here.

 


Three things I think you might like.


1. Read: "The sludge-like social convention that your only hope as a parent is to find other parents to talk to, for fear of driving your ‘proper’ friends to tired, stinging tears of boredom, isn’t just offensive; it’s harmful. It puts the child-rearing and the child-free at odds, separates them into silos, makes them mutually incomprehensible and uninformed." Preach.

2. Listen: here's a failsafe dinner playlist for when you've exhausted your capacity for Christmas songs.
 
3. Go home. Get into bed. You've had a busy week.

More things you'll actually want to do in London.

PS.

Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks to everyone who has read my newsletter this year, replied to it, told me you like it, or sent it to a friend. It means a lot. Have a good one. x
 
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