This year, The Rock at Boston College is doing the season of joy in a big way by generating new content every day in our first ever “25 Days of Christmas”. The Rock is proud to present this installment in our holiday special.
On November 1, it started. My Scottish friend decided to throw a belated Halloween party, and when she went to the shops that day to pick up some party snacks, there it was. Tinsel, fairy lights and holly—Tesco’s halls decked to perfection without missing a beat. Jingle, jingle, everyone!
In America, it’s fairly easy to determine the start of the Christmas season—I, like most sane people, draw the line at the day after Thanksgiving, though most businesses seem to be pushing over that border more and more each year. Without another holiday to separate out the seasons, Britain is at a bit of a loss. It’s hard to place an exact date on the start of the Christmas season here in the UK.
When I first arrived in Glasgow in early September, pubs and restaurants were already advertising their availability for Christmas parties. During my parents’ visit in mid-October, countless cranes were already setting up the lights outside the city chambers in George Square, which were illuminated on 12 November at the annual Christmas celebration. Not too long after, the Christmas market at St. Enoch (one of Britain’s largest shopping centers) opened up, boasting international trinkets and treats from its stands.
Yes, Christmas here starts early. And I, for once, don’t mind.
Back at home, I’m a fairly militant defender of the no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving rule. My mother and I used to boycott stores that put up their holiday decorations and ads too early (but since have given up, because we’re running out of places to shop). My favorite part of the year is breaking out the Christmas playlist on Thanksgiving night. I’m not a Scrooge, I just want to preserve the sanctity of the holiday season.
At first, the early Christmas in Britain bothered me. I scoffed in disbelief at billboards advertising Christmas dinners just days before Halloween, and tried to block out any sign of carols and bells. But then, I let it happen. Mid-November, I let Christmas cheer wash over me like a Yuletidal wave. I embraced premature holiday spirit like never before. And this, I think, is why.
Ever since I left Boston in early September, I’ve been singing it quietly in the back of my mind—“I’ll be home for Christmas”. I’ve imagined myself countless times bounding into my sister’s waiting arms at Logan Airport like a scene out of Love Actually (by the way, Jen, that’s my way of asking you to come and get me) and finally laying down my heavy suitcases in the glowing light of my family’s Christmas tree. This year, Christmas means more than ever. This year, it means coming home.
I know that in two weeks when the time comes to leave, it’ll be bittersweet. In spite of all the moments when I longed to be back in Boston with the people I love best, there’s a piece of me that’s going to miss Glasgow when I’m gone. There will be times when I’ll wish I could go back to Ashton Lane for drinks at my favorite pub, lose myself in the Botanic Gardens again, traipse up to Maryhill for a visit with my friends. What they don’t tell you about going abroad is that as hard as it is to adjust when you arrive in a new place, it’s harder to adjust coming back.
As tough as it’s been, this semester has been a blessing, and as it comes to a close, I’m grateful for everything Glasgow has given me. Somehow, I found people who could make this dreary city a bright and beautiful place, and as I prepare to part with them, I have nothing but thanks. Through the years, we all will be together if the fates allow, but have yourself a merry little Christmas now.