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It’s a foggy Christmas…

School is out! Vacation! I have not been so happy about it since I was a pupil myself. Because it means that I do not have to wake up at 6:45 and drive Becky to school!

Actually, I kind of overslept for two days in a row. Well, not really… When the alarm went off at 6:45, I serenely turned it off, closed my eyes… and opened them again at 8:15… Still managed to get to work by 9:20.

The famous – or is it notorious? – London fog made a belated appearance several days ago, even causing flight cancellations at Heathrow. Maybe it is not belated, but fog was an essential London attribute in many descriptions of the city that I heard in my youth, yet up until this week, we have not encountered any. Once it came, though, it stayed throughout the day, then the week… I guess the stereotype has a way of always getting back at you…

British have two days for Christmas holiday, the actual Christmas Day and the following one, called Boxing Day. There are several versions of how this holiday came into being, but the fact is that both Monday and Tuesday next week are days off. With such a short next week, almost everyone is taking some time off altogether. Our busy office floor was three-quarters empty today already, and I received probably two dozen out-of-office notifications, specifying January 2nd as the return day.

In the meantime, I took Kimmy to the kids Christmas party organized by the bank.

Now, to set expectations straight, it is important to note that in my 5+ years with the bank in New York, not once has there been a kids Christmas party. The last time I took my daughter to one, – it was then-5-year-old Becky, – I was working for DLJ… I have been thinking to myself, well, at least they do something for the kids in London…

So, when we arrived at the large concert hall, decorated in Peter Pan/Neverland themes, I was duly impressed. Couldn’t help thinking that it was my bonus money being spent there, but, nevertheless, impressed. There were several “stations”, where actors, dressed as pirates, fairies and other characters, entertained kids and performed various skits. On the big stage, there was a rotating interactive performance by the main characters. Near the Indian teepees, there was a crafts area, where kids could make themselves an Indian headdress out of paper and feathers. Several fairies were on stand by to paint kids’ faces.

In a room off to the side, there was Santa and his elves… In Britain, he is primarily called Father Christmas. Calling him Santa is a clear Americanism… Kimmy decided to go inside Santa’s hut by herself, so I did not catch a glimpse of him. But I’ve been told by other parents that make-up and lighting was done in such a way that even some adults were drawn back to their childhood beliefs in the jolly old man.

She also got a wrapped gift from one of the elves (which turned out to be a musical jewelry box playing It’s a Small World when open – in two days, it has seriously gotten on my nerves!) Her face was painted as a kitty-cat, she had her headdress done, and – hands wrapped around the present – she demanded that we go. With over a hundred kids there, ages 1 to 10, plus loud music and actors’ excited lines, the noise was at a level where I could not object in any way…

Becky did not make the age cut for the party, although I have a feeling she might have enjoyed it more than her little sister. I did see one girl there who looked way older than 10, though, and she clearly felt out of place. Must be a smart parent thinking, So what that she’s 13, she is entitled to go!…

Becky does have something else going for her, though. Natasha found her a skating instructor and took her for a first session yesterday. It is pretty far away from us, but sans traffic you can get there in 45 minutes or so. Natasha liked the facilities and the cost, Becky liked getting to do one of her favorite things. Next session is already scheduled.

And today, Becky went with her friend from school and her family, to a public rink, followed by a very nice dinner with shepherds pie (meat and potatoes and vegetables on the plate – so it is not really a pie). Becky showed off a bit at the rink, but had tons of good time.

Interestingly, her friend’s father works closely to me in technology at the bank; moreover, we used to be in the same organization in New York, and they lived in America for several years.

Tomorrow, we are going to the theater, to watch Mary Poppins. If the weather is ok, we will probably spend some time looking at Christmasy London…

Posted in Chronicles