The Night Before Christmas at Heathrow

The night before Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year. Christmas trees are glistening; presents have been wrapped and sleepy children leave out cookies and milk for Santa before crawling into warm beds. It really is my favorite time of the year. The anticipation of Christmas morning, the excitement of unopened presents and late night Christmas movies among low lighting and glistening lights seems to ignite a sense of child-like magic and wonder in the hearts of those that seem to be forever young. It’s almost as magical as traveling!

At this moment I find myself sitting at Heathrow International airport on Christmas Eve. It’s going to be one of those long waits but strangely enough, the solitude of sitting by my lonesome at a bustling airport seems to once again clear my mind. For some time now, I’ve been feeling like I just can’t breathe. I don’t know if it’s the monotony of everyday life that seems to be silently but slowly choking me or the incessant nagging feeling that staying in one place without any creativeness flowing is actually bad for my soul. There’s something about airports that puts things into perspective and causes you to realign your wants, needs and goals. Perhaps the things you want out of life now are no longer the same as those from five years or even five months ago. Perhaps you weren’t meant to stay in one place doing the same thing over and over again and instead your soul calls for a never ending need to explore the hidden crevices of the Earth in an attempt to discover the natural beauty that Mother Nature so carefully hid. Perhaps now, you don’t want to experience it alone either. Sure you can do it, I mean you’ve done it many times before but perhaps now, you just don’t want to. While taking random flights to the other side of the Earth is what you constantly crave, it doesn’t seem as appealing anymore unless you know someone is there to share it with you or that someone is waiting for you on the other side. As the Christmas signs at Heathrow airport so honestly put it: You don’t want to fly to somewhere… You want to fly to someone.

As the sun begins to rise and the airport slowly comes to life, I wonder of the many life stories that are passing through the airport as I write. A little girl clings to her mother’s thigh as she eagerly asks if it really is the night before Christmas. An old couple sit closely together, holding hands and waiting to board their flight while a dad reads short stories to his daughter while charging his iPad. Young lovers share constant kisses while solo travelers seem to constantly be typing on their mobile phones and making last minute phone calls. Everyone seems to be rushing somewhere. Perhaps they are all rushing home for Christmas Eve dinner. Perhaps they are all rushing to their end destinations for a vacation. Just perhaps. Life seems so quick… yet so simple… as it always does at an airport. You know where you’re going and what you’ve got to do and the excitement and magic never seems to die no matter how many times you do it. That’s the thing about Christmas and travel – they have so much wonder and magic in common you’d never realize it unless you look for it.

 

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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