Pre-Christmas in Edinburgh

Saturday 10 December 2011

Blog XI: Pre-Christmas in Edinburgh

Since I can remember Christmas has always been my favourite holiday; I never cared much for Halloween Easter was always a day during which I got candy, sometimes a stuffed animal, and painted/hunted eggs, and Thanksgiving always just seemed like a pointless holiday built on lies and deception. As I’ve gotten older I still hold these general views though I dislike Halloween now versus just feeling apathetic about it, I don’t really even celebrate Easter anymore, and Thanksgiving though a nice holiday to remind us to be thankful (but honestly we shouldn’t need a holiday to remember to be thankful) it is still a relatively pointless holiday. Christmas on the other hand is and always has been, absolutely fantastic. When I was a child I loved it because I loved the snow and eggnog and most of all the presents (basically I was like every other child in the western world whose family celebrated Christmas). As I’ve gotten older my love of Christmas has altered from the materialistic joys to the atmospheric joys during the build-up to the big day, in fact, I don’t really even enjoy Christmas day anymore I see it as an expected but detested end. The atmosphere of pre-Christmas is always warm and cosy; the air has started to become colder making extra blankets and heaters necessary so that your house and other buildings have warmth they didn’t have before. The streets become lit up with hundreds of white and tri-coloured Christmas lights, students begin to get excited about winter break, there is the sound of joy and laughter echoing in the air, and there is just an overall feeling of happiness and love. I realize that this view is a bit overly positive and I will admit I have glossed over the avarice, greed and general unhappiness that plagues this time of year but if I did add in this side of the holiday than the blog would take a rather dark and unlikable turn, so I’m sticking to the light centre and avoiding the dark corners.

Christmas in Edinburgh has not been as natural as Christmas’ in the past because my Christmas routine is specific for the States and has proven not to work here in Edinburgh. So instead of my Christmas traditions running smoothly I’ve walked off a few cliffs and had some trouble climbing back up to the original starting point. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Scotland I stated my Christmas traditions at the beginning of November, this was yet another one of my poor decisions made while here in Edinburgh (ugh I am so not used to running into so many hypothetical brick walls). So I started watching my favourite Christmas movies: A Christmas Story, White Christmas, The Family Stone, and The Polar Express; finished the small amount of Christmas shopping I needed to do (Christmas shopping was incredibly easy this year though because I just got everyone something from the University of Edinburgh) and sent out all my Christmas cards before the first of December so everyone got them before going home for the holidays. Though I enjoyed my usual traditions I had grown rather sick of them and finished basically everything before the first of December, so by the time it was actually appropriate to start the Christmas celebrations, I had finished. The last week of November and first few weeks of December proved to be my worst here in Edinburgh because not only did I have nothing to do since my school work was basically finished for the term but also all of my Christmas cheer had been spent. Regardless of my obviously dead spirit I tirelessly tried to reignite it but continued to be unsuccessful which just made me feel worse. Finally, after what seemed like weeks of despair my spirit reignited warming my entire being because of a) the RMS (Royal Medical Society) Christmas party that I attended with Paula and Ghaz and b) Princes St. and the German Market.

The RMS Christmas party helped to reignite the flame of my Christmas spirit not because it was exceptionally good or anything but because the atmosphere of joy and warmth was everywhere. Though every medic that I talked to kept telling me that RMS parties aren’t as dull as this one, I thought it was absolutely fantastic; partially because the RMS building was actually warm (my flat is always like walking into the Arctic) and partially because there were no mice (that we knew of). But it was also very nice because when we walked into the building out of the Edinburgh cold it was warm and smelled of spices because of the mulled wine (which was absolutely terrible). The entire night everyone was in a good mood, full of cheer (and wine) just having nice chats while Louis (a second year medical student) played Christmas tunes on the piano. Half of the Christmas spirit comes from being with other people and just having a nice time laughing and talking; this is exactly what encouraged my Christmas spirit to breathe again. Though the night did take a bit of a strange and ‘negative’ turn right before Paula and I left, but it isn’t worth recording.

Though the RMS Christmas Party helped to revive my damaged spirit, Princes St. and the German Market are the true reason behind it returning to its usual warm glowing self. The German Market is Edinburgh’s yearly Christmas Market, there are about twenty little stalls selling either food/hot drinks/mulled wine or Christmas gifts like jewellery and alcohol scented coffee. There is also a Ferris wheel, a Merry-Go-Round, and some other rides whose names I do not know. It is all just a glorious sight when you are walking either from the Royal Mile or down Princes St. after dark because the whole of Princes St. has white Christmas lights that lead to the spectacular sight of the illuminated Ferris wheel that is throwing shadows onto the towering Scott Monument. There really are no words and no camera powerful enough to every capture the beauty of Princes St. during Christmas time. The power of the Princes St. spectacle is so beautiful and fills me with such a warmth and joy that for the past couple of weeks I have journeyed from my ‘infested flat’, as it has come to be known, to my favourite Starbucks at the end of Princes St. that has four floor to ceiling bay windows that look out at the castle and the illuminated street, and I just sit there for hours looking out at the castle and writing my blogs with one of the delicious holiday drinks sucking up the warmth and joy of the season.

Though as the Christmas holiday draws steadily nearer Princes St. has started to get busier and busier and I can never figure out where all the people are coming from nor can I decipher what they are buying. I swear that each weekend I see the exact same people loaded over with bags from practically every store on the street, how many Christmas gifts are these people buying?! No matter my continual puzzlement and minor annoyance at the avarice that everyone is displaying with their multitude of purchases I still love coming to Princes St. and force myself down here as much as possible because by the time I return from Christmas in London on the 28th it will all be gone and the New Year will begin without small star like lights illuminating the night.