In an earlier post, I talked about meeting George’s parents for the first time and the impression I made upon them. Well, as it turned out I must have made a better impression than I’d thought because somehow, miraculously, I was invited to spend Christmas with them!
It was to be my first Christmas ever away from home and I had mixed emotions about it. Back home, our Christmas is steeped in tradition. Every year, my parents and I would make Welsh fondu (an old family recipe!) and escargot for Christmas Eve dinner. Then we would watch “White Christmas,” before going to bed (“Santa won’t come while you’re still awake!” Mom would tell me when I was little). In the morning before presents, we would open the ornament hanging on our tree; it was a tiny ceramic turtle shell that had a bow on top of it and a gift tag saying “Don’t open until Xmas.” It was my favourite ornament and every year in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I’d have to fight the urge to take a peek! Inside, was a sleeping turtle, nestled all snug in his blankets. After we’d opened the ornament, Christmas had officially begun! We would start on our stockings. Mine was the biggest; there’s a picture on our fridge with me as a toddler, stuffed inside the stocking. When each of us had unwrapped everything from our stocking, then we would move on to unwrapping the presents beneath the Christmas tree. When my dog was still alive, she would inevitably try to “help” us unwrap the presents. She knew there was one in there for her too, somewhere! After we had finished unwrapping presents, the phone would ring and I knew it would be my cousin Sarah, excitedly calling to see what I’d got! She always called, even though I would be seeing her in person a couple hours later for Christmas brunch, and then again for Christmas dinner with the whole family.
Spending Christmas on the other side of the world with people who weren’t my family and following someone else’s Christmas traditions, felt very strange. Change is good though, and though I haven’t always liked it, I had decided that my year (and a bit) in England was as good a time as any to make friends with Change. Christmas in England is rather different from Christmas in Canada. For example, on Christmas Eve, the tradition is to buy entry tickets and go spend the night celebrating with your mates up at the pub. Pubs aren’t even open in Canada on Christmas Eve, or if they are, I wouldn’t know about it and neither would any of my friends or family because we’re all spending the evening in with our respective families. I’ll admit though that I was pretty excited to experience an England Christmas Eve.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, George and I made the flat as Christmasy as we could. Together we went and picked out a Christmas tree that was so tiny, we buckled it into the back seat of George’s car on the way home with it. Decorating it, however, was a task undertaken entirely by George. For the month of December, Stella (the beer company) had a promotion going: order a pint of Stella and receive a free Stella Christmas bauble! Challenge accepted. George enthusiastically got to decorating our tree one Stella bauble at a time. In the end (and for no cost other than the price of a pint and the health of George’s liver) our little Christmas tree was barely visible under the thirty-five Stella baubles adorning it.
On Christmas Eve, George and I drove up to his parent’s house, where the Christmas decorations were much more lavish and varied. We ate and drank and I got to spend time with George’s siblings, Aunt and Grandma as well. They all welcomed me with open arms, even though I was just George’s weirdly clingy roommate (as far as they knew). In one more way, I had settled myself into George’s life. I didn’t mind and he didn’t seem to either.
As far as “firsts” go (and I was having a lot of them lately), it wasn’t a bad first Christmas away from home.
Who am I? I am Making Friends With Change.