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HC Abroad: I’ve got a visitor…or five

My best friend and family (mom, dad, and little sister) are in London!

I feel as if that almost all I need to say to make this post complete. My best friend from my university and my family are here to visit me, and nothing could make my week more than that.

As you can imagine, my week passed very slowly. I was constantly counting down the minutes, nay the seconds, until my family and friend arrived. Finally Saturday came (the day my family was supposed to come) and I found myself still twiddling my thumbs even to just pass the hours by.

It was only 11AM and I decided I had to do something pass the time, so I went on a walk through London. It was time to experience London in the fall, and to do so with a camera. However, as I was going on this epic walk, my camera died. Typical. That didn’t stop me, however, but it does prevent me from being able to visually show you what I saw.

As I was walking, I saw festive lights in the distance. I noticed a Ferris wheel in the distance, and knowing that it couldn’t be the London Eye, I was itching to know what could possibly be rising over the treetops of Hyde Park. How naïve I am. How could I not have known that this week was the opening of Winter Wonderland in London, a festivity that happens every year in Hyde Park? Winter Wonderland is one of the world renound Christmas events. It is home to a Christmas circus, rides, festive food and drinks, an acclaimed ice rink, and one of the top Christmas markets in the world. It opened this week, and remains so until the first week in January.

It’s so odd for me to skip any preparation for Thanksgiving and accept that Christmas songs and lights become a regular occurrence come November 1st. This has been a one of the hardest things for me to accept and get used to. I have always been a Christmas person, but I have also always felt that Thanksgiving has deserved its own day. When I asked for Thanksgiving off at work, they were happy to give me the time but were legitimately curious what the meaning was behind Christmas Day. Once I told the story of the Pilgrims, I had many people asking me what exactly it was that I saw in Thanksgiving, why I felt the need to devote a day of giving when I had an entire holiday season for that. I suppose I can see their view, but the point remained that I was American and therefore, I would always recognize Thanksgiving.

I noticed in talking about Thanksgiving that I felt a certain sense of responsibility to protect America in my explanation. I wanted them to not only understand the concept of Thanksgiving, but to understand why  we value it so much. While it is probably unlikely that we peacefully sat down with Indians and ate pumpkin pie, we as Americans value more the concept of giving thanks. In my time in London, I have come to regard the British as very kind, giving people. I have never experienced any animosity towards myself or me being American, but they seemed genuinely confused at the idea of Thanksgiving. I was proud to be American and explain our traditions, but more than that, I wanted them to respect them as well. I am not saying in explaining this that I felt the UK should honor Thanksgiving, but I am sure they have felt the same way in their celebration of certain holidays, such as Guy Fawkes Day (which the rest of the world doesn’t celebrate either).

Long story short, my parents arrived Saturday afternoon and I couldn’t have been happier. My sister and I met them at the train station and took them to a lovely dinner right in Greenwich, where she lives. The next morning we met them for breakfast and I parted ways to meet my best friend!

Once she arrived, I took her to high tea at Kensington Palace, the official residence of Princess Diana post-divorce and the future home of Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton once renovations are complete. Side note: I am a total royal family nerd and know a great deal of too much information when it comes to them…

After tea we walked to Waterloo Bridge where she could see Big Ben and Parliament. By then, her jetlag started to kick in and we called in early night, but I can’t wait to pay host to her while she is here. She already has commented on how much more independent I seem, and that means a great deal to me. I’m not sure if you remember my original post where I rambled on about how I wanted to find some source of independence. Hopefully this week one of the most important people in my life will be able to see how much the experience has changed me for the better. I will let you know how Thanksgiving goes down in London, and the epic visit that is to unravel from having my family and friend here during the same week…

I am a junior at Wake Forest University and write for the "News" section of WFU hercampus branch.
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