Ho Ho Home for the Holidays

It is always good to be back in the ‘hood!

I write often about expat exploits full of travel tales and observations.  But this time of year, there is no place I’d rather be that back in Old Greenwich, CT surrounded by family and friends.  I happily trade foreign for familiar.

In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, here is my Top Twelve List of why I love returning to the ‘hood.

12)  Soul Cycle

Sorry London, but the cleverly named Psycle is no substitute for the real thing.  It may sound masochistic to miss a sweaty workout that leaves me panting and always emphasizes how out of shape I truly am despite my best efforts.  However, I love the buzz and the chance to see basically everyone I know as I pop into a class that Connor does NOT teach at the random times that all those Greenwich devotees avoid.  Turns out that the jet lag works in my favor the first few days, giving me a slight leg up (so to speak) at 7:00 am when most people are still groggy and I am über-alert, having been up for three hours and downed about six cups of coffee.

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11) Movies

Why can’t all movies be released globally?  How come London only gets first run if the strange Benedict Cumberbatch is starring or if those bizarre East Enders are up to no good in another ridiculous romp? I’m ready to order a gallon of greasy popcorn and sit myself down to catch up on the movies I missed this Fall.  On a related subject, back in the ‘hood I can finally watch TV without paying for every US episode (it adds up!)  Yes, I know we have Downton Abbey, but unless you are into Friends reruns, there isn’t much else to watch.

10) Images

I wouldn’t be home without at least one trip to Images in Old Greenwich.  An avid photographer, I am constantly snapping away on my camera to the eternal annoyance of my family, giving me reason to stop in to Images frequently.  Of course, I visit with or without pictures to develop just to see Marcos’ smiling face and cheerful greeting.  He is only person outside of every London Cabbie who calls me “love“, and his exuberance always brings joy to my day.

P.S. Lucy loves the visit because she always tries to sneak a lollipop from the bin left out for children.

Marcos and Friend

9) CVS

OK, I know!  I truly hate CVS and yet it seems pretty awesome when I compare it to its inferior London cousin, Boots.  It’s a one-stop shop in the ‘hood.  I can get my wrapping paper, find cards, pick up some stocking stuffers, and get everyone’s US candy fix.  That would take three stops and possibly a tube ride in London. Best of all, I can refill my Advil Cold & Sinus supply which I can ever have enough of.  I know what your thinking, and I swear I don’t use the stuff to cook meth!  Boots offers the kindly named Night Nurse for sinusitis but guess what?  That nurse can take the night off because “she” doesn’t hold a candle to Advil Cold & Sinus!  It is my winter staple in the medicine cabinet.

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8) Broadway

The Great White Way quite simply paves over the West End.  Sorry London, but Broadway is the real deal.  Though technically not in the ‘hood, NYC is close enough to get on the list.  Seeing a musical celebration is part of our holiday tradition.  We have graduated from Barney’s Christmas and the Rockettes, and we plan to go see the classic On the Town this year.  I love London, but as the famous song goes:  “New York, New York it’s a helluva town…

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7)  The Ave.

To be clear, this is Greenwich Avenue or as my kids jokingly call it, “G-Ave”, our town’s answer to the London High Street.  Only living in London over four years could make me believe that it is actually a bargain to shop at the high-end retailers lining this luxury lane.  Since I am always paying about 50% more in the UK (when I bother to do the painful conversion), the Ave. looks like an attractive display of designer discounts just waiting for me to snatch up!

6) Scoutie

Lucy’s best friend, Scoutie, just happens to belong to my best friend, Cassie.  Scout is my usual excuse to stop over to Cassie’s house:  dog walk?  But then again, there is always a reason to pop over: cappuccino? glass of wine? chat? breakfast? lunch? dinner?….   Actually, there doesn’t really have to be a reason. I just stop by, saddle up to the kitchen counter, and make myself at home. I love knowing she (and Scout) are right around the corner.

scout

 5)  My fridge

I swear that angels sing choral exultations of joy every time I open the large door to my seemingly vast Sub Zero.  Or maybe that’s just in my head!  Sorry Barbie, but the kitchen appliances in London are truly suited to serve meals to only you, Ken, and maybe Skipper.  I can’t wait to fill my fridge with all the food I can jam in my giant shopping cart at the enormous grocery stores that have EVERYTHING all in one place!  I hear the angels singing again, “Halleluiah“!

 4) Tod’s Point

The gem of the ‘hood is this beautiful park that is surrounded by water views on all sides.  I think the beach is best in winter when the tiny tots toting sand pails are replaced by joyful dogs wagging tails.  The stark landscape of the season lends a new beauty to the Point.  It is exhilarating to feel the wind whipping as I turn the corner near the OG Yacht Club, glance to my right and see the Manhattan skyline gleaming in the distance, and walk along the sandy trails back around the beach.  Every time I set foot on Tod’s Point, I am grateful to live in Old Greenwich.

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 3) My Christmas decorations

This is an obvious one.  You simply can’t celebrate Christmas without covering your tree with the decorations that your kids made in nursery school.  Nothing is better than the creations made from cardboard, glitter, popsicle sticks, glue, and yarn.  No need for explanation.

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2) My view

There is nothing like waking up, looking out my back windows, and seeing the sun rise over the Long Island Sound.  I appreciate it much more now that it is an infrequent vision.  I also appreciate the sound of silence that I never quite experience living in a city where the hum of steady cars, blast of occasional horns, and squealing squeak of my front gate interrupt every day.   At home, all I hear are waves rhythmically lapping at high tide, geese gently splashing down in flocks, seagulls screaming over head, and wind whistling through branches.  (Oh, and the incessant thumping and banging of construction next door, but it’s Christmas so I’m overlooking that!)

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1) My family!

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It goes without saying that the Number One reason to return for the holidays is to have all of our extended family together.  My house becomes a revolving door as family arrives in intervals, takes every seat around the fully extended table, and spends the night filling every bed and blowing up every spare mattress.  All that love under one roof is what the season is all about.

 There is no place like home for the holidays.

May yours be merry and bright!

 

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