I hope you all had wonderful Christmases, and I’m sorry to those of you who never received your Yuletide greeting: I never quite made it to the post office with my cards. I was bad enough at hitting the last day of the post back home; attempting international delivery meant failure was inevitable.
This was my first ever Christmas away from my parents and all the festive traditions I’m used to. I didn’t have to peel sprouts and chop swede on Christmas Eve, I wasn’t woken too early by an excitable brother, there was no turkey, roast potatoes and pigs in blankets, no Christmas pudding with custard you have to wrestle from my father’s desperate hands and no speech from the Queen, watched while munching Quality Street that shouldn’t theoretically have anywhere to go, one’s stomach being crammed to bursting with stuffing and gravy.
Also no crackers. I had no idea they were a tradition peculiar to the UK, but apparently bundling a stupid joke, a paper hat and a small plastic toy that 30% of the time cannot be identified into a cardboard tube is not a worldwide phenomenon.
We did get to open our gifts together, though, which made it all ok. We got up early for a video call, my parents having patiently waited all day to open their presents from us. They had sent over a stocking for each of us, which were duly ripped into. Hubby is particularly thrilled with his Dalek toothbrush and extendable fork, designed for pinching everybody else’s food, while I was delighted with my pig-shaped egg timer and Union Jack bauble and tea towel.
After our own gift-swapping (during which my incredibly thoughtful husband presented me with a copy of The Snowman, the Christmas movie I’ve watched every year since I was 3 years old and was sad to be going without, as well as various other goodies), we trotted over to the main house for yet another unwrapping session with the rest of the family. Fortunately, that shit never gets old.
We did spectacularly – there were too many gifts to list. Some of my favourites included the traditional socks and underwear (I didn’t bring any socks with me and am still living out of my suitcase, so those were a godsend), a Pilates DVD, a handmade wooden hand mirror, a pair of fluffy pants for mooching about the house in and a book from my father-in-law that’s a primer for all the skills a woman might need to live this close to nature. It includes instructions for making willow furniture – he’s taking me out to collect wood to make an end table tomorrow.
This was followed by a delicious family dinner and plenty of fun and games, including a hilarious session on Dance Central (from sis-in-law and family) on our new Kinect (from Mum-in-law and Dad-in-law). Nothing like cramming most of the family in our little living room to watch us shake our booties.
All of this was preceded by the family Christmas Eve, which involved a lot of merrymaking and munching and swapping of gifts. I now possess, among other things, a recipe box from Grandma Rosetta, with which to thieve everyone’s cooking skills, some beautiful homemade baubles from Aunt Mary and a down jacket from Uncle Jim and Aunt Michelle that I haven’t taken off for 3 days. The latters’ sons gave everyone a pocket knife; mine was little, which I believe to be fitting as I am a learner and the most likely to chop my own fingers off.
And that was our Christmas: not anything like the one I’m used to, but a lot of fun. So, what did you get from Santa?