Although the winter here in London has been quite mild in comparison to the two years before, it is still December and cold enough for me to wear gloves and to press against the radiators in my room for a bit in the evening hours I happen to be home.
In the weeks I’ve been doing my internship in Covent Garden, I’ve been commuting to Covent Garden via the Piccadilly line, which means I catch the tube at Manor House. As I ride the bus along green lanes, I like looking at the trees that line the road, many of which are barren save for a few stalwart leaves clinging on despite it all. Since in Florida there aren’t a whole lot of trees that shed their leaves in the wintertime (though there are some–crape myrtles, for example), I see an austere beauty in the stark branches, naked of their leaves, revealing how intricate all their boughs and twigs are.
Some are really surprising in their composition, like these trees on Defoe Road, whose tangled branches display a chaos that seem to invoke a personality akin to a hurricane.
I don’t know if these trees really exhibit the mathematical precision noted in this recent NPR article, considering how chaotic they look, but it would be fascinating if there is, indeed, a bit of order in this riot of branches.
So, Christmas has come and gone. Aside from a short shift at the pub, I spent it on my own, and it turned out all right. I made a modest roast dinner for myself and watched the Christmas special of Downton Abbey. Christmas eve I watched Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer on my phone in the kitchen before I had some rum toddies and went to bed. It’s amazing how that show is completely ingrained in my Christmas experience. That and listening to some Chipmunks, of course.
Last week I received a box my parents put together of some of my things–a couple of coats and some aprons and things, as well as a new knitted cap and knitted slippers my mother made. Mostly, though, the box contained old, familiar things I was very appreciative of receiving. I wore one of my coats I’d received the next day, and it was ridiculous how special I felt wearing one of my favourite coats. It made me think about how we as people value things, especially the things we already have and possess. Christmas is a time especially when people are encouraged to think about what they want rather than be thankful for what they have. Commercials on television and adverts on signs and buses try to get us to want such an array of things–sweaters, watches, sofas, socks, iPads.
It’s funny how being on my own this Christmas has made me want less outside of the contents of the box my folks sent me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been too busy working two jobs to really covet anything outside of beer and sleep, pitiful as it sounds. Although I do pass numerous shops with lovely things in their windows on my way to work both in Covent Garden and in Stoke Newington, I’m more pleased right now to have my doe-coloured coat or my old duvet cover. In time, I might be accustomed to having them and I might long for something new. I suppose that’s natural. But I’ve learnt in these last few months of hard work and lean times that not everything I want is something I need.
And sometimes those wants get in the way of what is needed.