Christmas traditions in America and England: Let’s Compare!

As with so many other things, there are far more differences than one would think between America and England. And when it comes to the Christmas holidays, this is true too! Over the past several years I’ve noticed all the little differences that add up to a very different holiday experience, and here I have compiled them for you. Ta-da!

Movies: As we Americans know, the quintessential Christmas eve films are “A Christmas Story” (you’ll shoot yer eye out!) and the classic Dr. Seuss animated version of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”. In the UK you get the much more staid “The Snowman”, which is mostly silent and only 30ish minutes long. Anticlimactic!

Treats for Santa: In England children leave a carrot for the reindeer, and a mince pie and some sherry (!!) for the fat man, while in the States we do cookies and milk, which seems far more wholesome if you ask me.

Songs: It seems to me that here in the UK the most popular holiday tunes  (aka, the ones I hear allllll the timmmmeeee) are a few decades old: Slade and Band Aid and The Pogues seem to be on a never-ending loop, accompanied by Wham’s “Last Christmas”.  In America I think Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the big song of the season, and whatever other pop songs get released each year (NSYNC and Justin Bieber and Christina Aguilera singing their remakes of classics, plus dudes like Michael Buble doing the Xmas crooning thang). It seems that these, plus a sprinkling of traditional carols, like Silent Night and all of that, make up the American musical repertoire at the holidays. And don’t forget about Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby! (America skips the past few decades and heads straight for the fifties and sixties).

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Kellie and Rachel

Once upon a time it was 2003 and I moved into a dorm room with too many people in too small of a space on a big ol’ college campus. And in that dorm were plenty of nice girls, but only a few that I still love with all my heart and who return my affections, even knowing how completely stupid I was when I was 19. And 20. And 21 (loooord, 21, when every “good” American girl really comes out of her shell and spends more nights than anyone should spend in cheap bars). And so on and so forth. Rachel lives in North Carolina now, Kellie’s still in Columbus, but Rachel drove over to hang out and tell old stories and eat brunch and walk around with Kellie and I (and Jon, that wonderful partner of mine who doesn’t mind baring witness to friends catching up and telling all the same old tales of embarassment and youthful revelry).

These are the people most used to me and my ever-present camera. (Plus Lindsey, too).

While walking back to our cars after brunch at Tasi-Columbus people, go there! You will love it!-we came across this giant metal Ohio sign outside one of the antique shops. It obviously once belonged to a car dealership, and I wish I had had the space or expendable income to purchase it. Surely it was only outside anyway because it was a game day. The attempt of O-H-no I just another-O is now permanently ensconsed in (digital) film.

O-HO!

OHO!

Ah dear friends. Till we meet again. It won’t be soon enough.

Firepits and friends

We spent not one, but two nights last week soaking up the smokey goodness that is a solid backyard firepit. Both Nia and her dude, and Evie and her dude have this little slice of backyard heaven in their respective abodes, and Jon and I were more than happy to join them for drinks and s’mores and all that good stuff. Two nights in a row! Woo! Thanks you guys!

At Nia and Jeff’s we made s’mores with hershey’s kisses because that’s what we had on hand. They have a crazy cute puppy that is 3/4 English bulldog and 1/4 something else not bulldog but still totally adorable. And that little dog is a freak, and loves beer so much that she jumped on Jon’s lap to grab his bottle with her tiny paws and have at it.

Nothing like a good fuzzy picture via manual settings in the dark with a DSLR.

Evie and Nick had us over for dinner the following night. Homegirl can make a hella good chili/cornbread combo, and I will never stop swooning over her exposed-bricked mid-century awesome house, coupled with her ability to always have her hair up in interesting and fabulous ways (coming from my long hippy-haired self, I wish I took the time to cultivate such skill). Reading that back it sounds incredibly superficial, but um…it’s not? It’s not. I wish we had Evie and Nick doppelgangers in Brighton to hang out with. They are wonderful people.

Ghost-face Evie.

Not to be a broken record-I’m totally a broken record-but it’s thinking over nights like these that at once make me so homesick for a life in Ohio with evening hang outs and chit-chat, and at the same time so fucking grateful for friends that will invite my transient ass over to their beautiful homes when I am in town. I am so lucky and thankful for their love and conversation and presence.

Home again, Safe and Sound

Where to start? I am sitting on my couch, watching the 7 o’clock news while Jon does the post-dinner dishes. Everything is utterly, completely normal now that we’re back home. It is darker here, earlier than expected. England is colder and rainier than it was when we left. It feels like autumn. It feels like home. The split is something I’m coming to terms with; I don’t ever know if I’ll feel fully, only at home here. It’s strange enough to take my vacations to Ohio now. When I touch down there, when I see my friends and family and jump right back into the same old conversations at the same old places, it all feels normal. Long drives out to the middle of nowhere to see my parents in their respective houses. The usual. So leaving is the weird, hard part. I don’t want it to ever NOT be hard to leave-that’s when I’ll know I don’t belong there anymore, and I always want to belong there.

Ohio skies