This week, CandysDirt.com staff are writing about holiday decor and the best places to hang Christmas stockings. Since graduating college, my best place for holiday stockings has been on my feet as I drove to an airport. Flush with money from my first big-boy job, I booked my first international trip to Europe for the precise purpose of escaping the holidays. I’ve never looked back.
I have never setup a Christmas tree, strung garland, or been awoken to a sugarplum dancing in my head. I’m sure it doesn’t take Freud to figure out my aversion.
My childhood holidays were a B O R E. My parents, brother, and I shredding through presents and then were kinda bored by noon followed by an early dinner and TV. Thank god when movies started being shown on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
So I am here to tell you it is not too late. Hang your stocking from the overhead bin and RUN AWAY!
And if that doesn’t convince you, Swedish researchers traced the timing of heart attacks from 1998 to 2013. They found the risk of a heart attack rose 37 percent on Christmas Eve, peaking at 10 p.m. It’s a phenomenon reported in Los Angeles and New Zealand, where no one dies from shoveling holiday snow. In the U.S., increased risk began around Thanksgiving and peaked on New Year’s Day.
My first post-college Christmas was spent in London in a small hotel a block from Harrods with shared bathrooms. While my memories of the Basil Street Hotel remain vivid, the hotel is no more. London real estate converted it into swanky flats many years ago. I flew Icelandair and was 17 hours delayed.
The following year, I really made the great escape spending two months in South Africa. It was phenomenally cheap (The Westin in Jo’burg was $24/night and dinner for two with wine was $8). Before I left, I took out an ad in a magazine advertising my general itinerary and seeking local tour guides. I had over 400 replies. At some point I realized I could never meet everyone and sent regrets (I had manners and answered them all).
Funnily enough, every place I visited, I’d be out and someone would invariably come up to me and tell me they’d written to me. Everyone was so nice and I never felt alone. It was an amazingly rewarding trip. I distinctly remember a photograph on the cover of the International Herald Tribune of a grocery store shopping cart in Chicago mired in a blizzardy snowbank. I was sitting on a nude beach in Cape Town showing all my new friends. To heck with Christmas.
For the next few years I booked back to London for Christmas and New Year’s. Beginning in the late 1980s, I tried Hawaii. After all, Chicago was cold and Hawaii was definitely warm. The only reason I went was one year (I think 1989) America West Airlines had a half-price sale in the spring to anywhere they flew good for a year. I got a $300 ticket to Hawaii and crossed my fingers they wouldn’t go out of business.
I made it to Hawaii and stayed in the same hotel the Bradys did. I, too, opened my hotel room door to a floor-to-ceiling Diamond Head and ocean view. After the view wore off, I really hated Hawaii. I was single and everyone goes to Hawaii with someone. Meeting other tourists for a chat was hard. Meeting locals was impossible. Residents in resort destinations get treated like vacation conquests which gets tiring when the crew changes weekly.
I returned to London for a couple of years. But began to wonder how could I not enjoy Hawaii (it’s Hawaii for cripes sake). And I returned. And I hated it even more. I’d gone to the less-populated outer islands and this single person was bored to tears.
After a few more years of London, I tried a third time and things clicked. I met someone in a bar (as you do) who told me I was doing it all wrong. We met the next day at his hotel – on the beach but outside the touristo of Waikiki.
Hawaii finally clicked. I rented a condo in a building a few doors down from my new friend’s hotel and never looked back. He came down to see my place and ditched his hotel and rented a condo in the same building the following year.
Today, on any given night there can be up to 10 people sitting on the beach at sunset chattering away about the day, perhaps enjoying a glass of wine and a nibble.
Happenstance and a little planning.
So if the holidays are a drag because you have nothing to do. or the tedium of family wears, just leave. I give you permission. If you can’t run away to somewhere exotic, anywhere will do. And if you always travel for the holidays to celebrations you always regret, stay home. Just stand firm and tell the world, you’re going.
After all, if loved ones require Christmas to know you care, one of you is doing it wrong.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.