I'm extra excited about my blog today because I have a guest post from the super cool Lindsey Kelk, whose new book, I Heart Christmas, was published in England a couple of weeks ago. She's one of the funniest adult authors around and constantly amuses me on Twitter (follow her at @LindseyKelk but be warned: she used colourful language sometimes). I've always been fascinated with differences between the UK and US and, seeing as Lindsey now lives in New York, I thought it'd be fun for her to write about Christmas differences between the two.
Thanks Lindsey, and I hope you guys enjoy reading this as much as I did!
Christmas in New York
I’ve been in NYC for four and a half years and spent Christmas there twice. In all honesty, the first time I stayed, I was really panicky. I’m a total Christmasaholic and was worried that being away from my family and all my traditions (I have so many, it’s basically OCD – Obsessive Christmas Disorder) that it wouldn’t be the same. Happily, I had my friends, I had a ton of English chocolate and we got three and a half feet of snow on Boxing Day so I was happy as Larry. Actually, I used have a landlord in Brooklyn called Larry and he never seemed that happy. So I was happier than Larry.
There’s no end of wonderful things to do in New York over the holidays – go skating in Central Park, see the biggest Christmas tree on earth at Rockefeller Centre, watch the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, enjoy the store windows on Fifth Avenue and indulge in the best Christmas shopping on earth. And of course there’s nothing you can’t eat. Nothing. Personally, I don’t think there’s a better time of year to visit my favourite city on the earth. Everyone is a bit happier and a bit cheerier, even if they don’t celebrate Christmas themselves. And as a Brit, I know that sounds kind of insane but New York is home to people from every culture, every nationality and every religion on the planet. Lots of my friends are Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas but they still love the holidays and appreciate the shift in the city’s happiness meter. And to be honest, half the thrill of doing Christmas in New York is taking the alt-city option. Want Chinese food delivered for your tea? You’ve got it. Fancy popping to the pictures on Christmas Day? Most of the big winter movies open on the 25th so you can do exactly that. You can bunker down for three days with the family anywhere you like but where else can you get a deep fried turkey delivered to your door and then take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry to clear away the post-lunch fug?
The most difficult thing for me about Christmas in America, is how long it takes to kick in. I am a Christmasaholic and cannot wait to get my tree up. In the UK, we have the season of goodwill shoved down our throats from the middle of October but in the US, it takes longer to appear. In theory, this makes it all the more special once it arrives but in reality, it just gives you considerably less time to eat seasonal treats and pretend you don’t want to visit santa’s grotto, even though you’re 33. Cough. Admittedly, all the autumnal US holidays are ace. Christmas is dramatically held up by Halloween (amazing) and then by its Turkey Twin, Thanksgiving (yum) before it’s finally time to put up your Christmas tree. Seriously, no Christmas until the last Saturday of November. Can you imagine being denied the Coca Cola ‘Holidays Are Coming’ ad until December first? Thank god I’ve got all of November in the UK this year – best of both worlds...
The most traumatic thing for everyone else alive is that Americans, on the whole, only get ONE DAY OFF. Seriously. They don’t even know what Boxing Day is. Clearly, this is a travesty and I’m doing my best to turn it around but until Obama recognises the need to sit on the settee, eating pork pie and turkey sandwiches while watching James Bond films, I don’t think they’ll ever really get anywhere as a country…