What gives you that wonderful Christmas feeling? With three weeks to go, many people are so frantically busy that the sensation of peace and happiness is almost impossible to imagine.
To put that right, start making time in your diary for special activities that will help you to recapture your childlike Christmas wonder, and the rest of Advent will seem so much more of a pleasure. I’ve taken inspiration from Nat King Cole’s perfect 1946 hit, Merry Christmas To You, when drawing up my list of suggestions.
- Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
Hunting for presents in noisy, harshly lit stores can be exhausting. Try shopping on a more human scale with a visit to the Christmas market you’ll find on Wimbledon Piazza every weekend until Christmas. Browse at your own pace, taking time to talk to the local artisans offering original art, accessories, clothing, homewares and crafts, and gift-buying may become a pleasure again. You could sip a glass of mulled wine and try some hot street food – maybe a traditional bag of roasted chestnuts.
If you head into town, the Winter Market returns to the South Bank with hundreds of craft stalls and German-themed treats like Gluhwein and strudel to enjoy. Just remember: the thing that touches your heart is often the thing closest to home. Why not check out signboards on your street for craft fairs at your local school or church?
2. Jack Frost nipping at your nose…
Wobbling around on a pair of skates at an ice rink is a great Christmas leveller, and is one of the best ways to reconnect with your childlike sense of fun. Try your skills for free at the temporary ice rink in Centre Court shopping centre in Wimbledon from December 16-23; or book a longer session in the grand surroundings of the Natural History Museum or Somerset House. You could make a day of it at Greenwich Winter Time Festival, where each three hour skating session opens with a spectacular display by professional ice-skaters, and there is also a huge Christmas market. The hot chocolate you have after skating will seem like the best you ever tasted.
3. Yuletide carols being sung by a choir…
The sound of voices singing carols always conveys a tingle of Christmassy emotion, whether its the local choir outside the supermarket or choristers by candlelight in a church heavy with holly boughs. Children from two local schools will sing at the Wimbledon Guild Carol Service at St Mark’s Church in Wimbledon at 6.30pm on Thursday, December 7. Tickets from £5. On Saturday, December 16, there is an unusual, outdoor Carols at the Windmill on Wimbledon Common from 3pm, with the Wandle Concert Band and mulled wine and mince pies. Christmas purists will love the gorgeous choice of traditional music in local professional choir Sonoro’s Christmas concert, and the programme also includes the world premiere of A Birth-night Song, a carol written specially for Sonoro by composer Betty Roe. Tickets from £5, St John’s Church, Spencer Hill, Wimbledon, 7.30pm on Wednesday, December 20.
Check your local church for listings, because nearly every church in the land is offering a Christmas service on Sunday December 17.
4. And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Christmas season also means Panto time, where there’s plenty of silly and outrageous costumes and knockabout comedy to help you forget your endless list of jobs. Don’t miss comedian Al “The Pub Landlord” Murray in Jack and the Beanstalk at the New Wimbledon Theatre from December 9 – you’ll find there are lower seat prices this year to make it more affordable for families. The Rose Theatre in Kingston is offering a daring Christmas show: Alice in Winterland is a new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved Wonderland books, performed by professional actors side by side with local drama students as young as 10.
And for something completely original, you can’t beat the Christmas surprise of London’s first ever live Advent Calendar. Open a different door in Wimbledon at a set time every day in Advent, and you’ll find top class performers ready to put on a show. It’s free, and first come, first served.
Keep an eye on Twitter for more festive goings on in Advent!
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two.
Although it’s been said many times, many ways:
Merry Christmas to you!