High Park, Toronto, Canada

There isn’t much to distinguish Christmas Day over the past few years to me, I wake up at my mum’s house and together we start peeling vegetables, eating pancakes and exchanging gifts. Later, my grandparents, sister and nephews come by for lunch and we finish the day in front of the television wondering if we could possibly squeeze in another serving of leftovers. It’s a familiar convention that makes Christmas, Christmas.

For 2020 I, as many did, had no idea how things would pan out. Rough outlines of plans had been made, scratched out, redrawn again and again but who knew what we’d be “allowed” to do and who we could see. For the first time, I wouldn’t be at home in England and I’d spend Christmas Eve alone in my apartment – as I had done every other December night in 2020. Now, that may sound a bit sad and lonely, but it wasn’t. I had Wham! playing, I baked mince pies and in our ever connected world, I was still chatting with my friends and family, it was just… different.

To further make this holiday unforgettable, I woke up on Christmas morning in Toronto to find the city covered in a thick blanket of snow. It was my very first white Christmas!

I live a 20 minute walk from my favourite and the city’s largest park – High Park. I arrived early with my camera as blue hour was just passing and the trails were untouched.

I’d entered a winter wonderland and it was completely magical.

The silence was surreal. Did I really just step out from Bloor Street? As a lady and her dog joined me at the park entrance, too in complete awe, we felt compelled to whisper our merry Christmases.

Amid this calm, Spring Creek offered pristine reflections of the snow covered trees. It was still quite dark at this point.

Black squirrels were pounding around, making cute padding sounds in the powdery snow. This one peeping out of a log to see what was up.

I love that there are a number of conservation areas in the park and hidden nature trails to get lost in. A flash of red flew past me as a cardinal settled in on a branch to take in the views.

Before I knew it, hours had past by and the park was starting to fill with many people out enjoying the snow. The sky was starting to brighten up and I gulped down hot tea so I could stay out in the cold just a little while longer.

I smiled and thought to myself, that yes, this sort of makes up for not going back home.

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