We had a lovely, if a bit melancholy on my part, Christmas. I’m so bad at being away from home around the holidays! It’s not as if I’m dying to be back in Ohio, but as it is I think I’m doing fine, I’m spending time with Jon and we’re opening presents and running around doing all the Christmassy things and then-bam!-I’m crying in Jon’s old bedroom at his parents’ house on Christmas eve because I miss my mom.
Expat life, dudes. Harrumph.
But really, our Christmas was nice. This was perhaps the first year ever that I ticked nearly every box in the imaginary checklist in my mind of what I want to do before the big day arrives-make and send good cards to people I love, buy and wrap (and ship) presents, make cookies, drink mulled wine, have various get togethers, wear fabulous sweaters, decorate and enjoy our tree, watch all my favorite Christmas movies…..all of it. It’s quite a list. And this year, without stressing, it all came together. And I’m thankful for that, and for a nice partner who indulges my childlike enjoyment of this season.
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).