We’re getting close to holiday season and being a Brit, I say, forget the turkey! I want to step out and see the happenings. Taking the London tube to Bond Street to visit the Burberry store, then on to Harrods to check out their infamous Christmas window display represents the spirit of Christmas in my hometown on every level.
Christmas conjures up a special place in one’s mind that is individual to us all. In the run up to Christmas, nostalgia for my home, Richmond, in London is stirred up in me. For those of you who don’t know Richmond in the UK, it’s a very cool and unique town. It’s so cool that Mick Jagger and Tommy Steel live there. Growing up, living in a London environment full of cultural grit made me appreciate and understand who I am as an individual. Being around successful, yet raw and unaffected individuals (and their children) who didn’t seem to care what the world thought served to ground my own attitude. Don’t get me wrong, intellectual snobbery in Richmond was, and still is, rife, the trick was to be self possessed about it. Creativity and self expression was revered and ruled supreme.
In the winter, London’s wet cobbled streets have a lingering fragrance of mulled wine and whiskey, but contrastingly there is nothing damp about London’s social scene. London has an air that is electric and fueled with all the excitement of Christmas promise and London’s vibrant party scene rolls right along with it.
My friends and I relished the idea that the holiday season brought with it many more venues to explore one’s passion for cultural
expression, after all, culture is all about the collective. In our youth, our collective attitude was, to celebrate life and open our hearts through music, dance, fashion and laughter. It wasn’t a casual choice of what event to attend, it was a conscience, meaningfully crafted lifestyle. Cultivating a creatively inspired life outside of work unified and liberated those of us who had sold our souls to the corporate devil during the working week in a necessary and functional way. In a never sleeping, capitalistic city one had to find ways to alleviate any perceived creative suppression. So, we went to Glastonbury, we attended ballets, we took our guitars and camped in rural idylls, we protested against country road construction, we acted together, together we were powerful. As young adults in London we experienced a varied, yet wide scope of experiences that helped accumulate our, soon to be, diverse social understanding. My London friends are now architects, artists, owners of salons, graphic designers, head hunters, DJs, and movers and shakers who still have a thirst for all things cultural and artistic.
Reflecting upon growing up in Richmond I feel very thankful to have experienced that type of expressive freedom. It shaped me. I am a diverse person who can appreciate opera, Monet, reggae and Damien Hurst. Today, I find myself getting lost in the pages of W magazine, or romping the Seattle downtown streets, eyeing up boutiques, coffee shops, visiting galleries or sticking my head in a good book. Now that I have children, I would like them to have the same kind of creative freedom and appreciation that I remember so fondly while living here, in Seattle.
When I landed in Seattle I was worried. How does one find seasonal diversion in Seattle? Similarly Seattle and London both have wet weather but what else do have in common? I am now trying to discover more about Seattle’s cultural ‘scene’. Is it all hip and very little stir? I have questions.
In the words of the Greek philosopher, Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters,” I am going to take action. So, this season I plan to divert my mind from my glorious and colorful home land and to twist my attention to the cultural heartbeat of Seattle – and tune right in! It turns out Seattle has a lot to offer. My first stop this summer in Seattle was to attend Seattle’s much hyped and much respected annual music festival: Bumbershoot. Coincidentally, a UK band was playing – The Heavy, a band I have the great fortune of knowing personally. My son and I had a great experience, rubbing shoulders with Seattle’s music fan’s, we felt part of something, something big and diverse.
I have already met some wonderful artists with extraordinary talents in Seattle: Anna Skibska, Juan Alsonso, Carole McClellan, Joyce Gehl, Stephen O’Donnellto name a few. All of whom have been so welcoming
and friendly to me as an ‘accidental outsider’. The first Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square is liberating visually, gritty, and if anything, a jolly good social, I have waxed lyrical with some very interesting people, all passionate about art.
I recommend the visual delights at Seattle’s formidable museums and galleries: The SAM, SAAM, Winston Wachter, the Henry, Friesen, EMP. And wow- the fall leaves at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens were a breathtaking visual of a garden on fire with oranges and reds. My fashionista girl-friend and I were eagerly present at the at Nordstrom’s to have an ‘up close and personal’ with the fashion stylist/personality Rachel Zoe and I even attended a British movie premier at SIFF!
In my effort to explore the Seattle cutural landscape, I am now conscientiously filling up my calendar with ‘go to’ holiday season diary staples:
The Wicked National tour, here at the Paramount Theatre, October 19 – November 17 is an absolute must.
We Brit’s don’t really celebrate Halloween like Americans do, hey, you guys go to town! However, I will definitely be donning a costume, (or two), for this Halloween’s festivities. If I were to do one thing this Halloween, (apart from keeping the children amused with eye make-up and fake blood), it will be a taking a tour of my neighborhood’s festive activities, supporting my local community.
I will be shaking it hard and heavy at Club Sur November 3rd for ‘Out on a Whim W’him’, supporting and fundraising for Seattle’s local dance troupe. There be will some shake left in me for: Trouble @ Q, November 9th and dancing hasn’t even run into December yet!
Providence Health and Services celebrates Christmas with their casual and family friendly Christmas Carnival from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Monday 26th November, Silver Bells Luncheon, Tuesday 27th commencing at 11:00 a.m. at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle, a very worthy cause indeed and perfect for your “ladies who lunch” attire; followed on Wednesday 28th by the formal Providence O’Christmas Trees Gala dinner and auction from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Another big hitter: The Nut Cracker by Pacific Northwest Ballet, December 7-29. These are family friendly events but one must leave room in one’s calendar for cultivating adult fun. You can escape visually and artistically here in Seattle, there’s a cultural avenue for everyone it just needs some thought and exploration.
So, long may the festivities continue! Time to grab the most glamorous and cool outfit you can and make like a holiday bandit! No excuses. Its all or nothing because January is looming and we need to have something fun and exciting to refer to to get us through it!
Thinking about still feeling like a reluctant outsider I find myself thinking of the quote by the travel author J. Maarten Troost, in his book: Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu, “Paradise was always over there, a day’s sail away. But it’s a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life. I, finally, knew where my life belonged. Home.” I like to think that Seattle will be a place I call home, one day.
Reader note: I will be posting on the 1st Monday of December reviewing past and future ‘go to’ holiday events right here in Seattle. We at the Vanguard want to hear about your holiday schedule.