Until I moved to California, my Christmases were spent like so:
::Christmas shopping in a beautifully lit up High Street on dark cold evenings, wrapped up in a warm coat, scarf and gloves
::Opening advent calendar doors daily
::Dad and I decorating the tree
::Meeting up with my friends on Christmas Eve before meeting our parents and going to Midnight Mass together
::Dad whispering 'Happy Christmas' the moment midnight struck
::Visiting my grandparents' graves behind the church after the service
::Waking up Christmas morning and annoying my family by being too slow at eating my breakfast (I can't help it, honest).
::Everyone gathering to give and receive gifts.
::Visiting my Aunt who lives down the street.
::Returning home for Christmas dinner (roast turkey, roast potatoes, gravy, carrots, peas, parsnips, cranberry sauce, sage and onion stuffing balls and Yorkshire puddings... all while wearing the paper hats from our crackers, of course).
::Queen's speech
::Dessert (Christmas pud or Christmas cake)
::Family party, with all the cousins, aunts, uncles etc. playing games, quizzes and card games for pennies until the early hours (with mince pies, Christmas cake, sausage rolls, sandwiches, scones, trifle and lots of other delicious food).
::Days and days of lovely turkey leftovers

So it's been a little unsettling to move to a State where there is an ice cream truck driving down your street in mid-December (really). The sun is shining, there are no lights strung across the streets, there are no Christmas Carolers going door to door, the family affair is a low key meal and any traditional food is made by me (and usually only enjoyed by me, as my in-laws don't seem to like it). Hardest of all: my family are not here to share it with me.
I have also had to get over the guilt of opening presents a day early (that's when my in-laws celebrate), but that's another story.

Still, despite my in-laws' reluctance to enjoy an English-style Christmas, my children are not going to escape unscathed. There may be no chance of a white Christmas around here, but they will get a Christmas dinner, Christmas cake and mince pies each Christmas (even if they are nowhere near as good as mum's - hmmm, maybe that explains my in-laws' reaction...). They will have an advent calendar and playing games as a family on Christmas will be encouraged. We will never go to the movies on Christmas Day. The Queen's speech will probably have to go, though (sorry).

I'm also trying to introduce some new traditions for them. Each Christmas they have been forced into child labour, I mean, they enjoy making Christmas decorations. They have a small tree just for their decorations, but I can't wait until there are enough to cover the main tree. Here's a sampling of what they have made so far this year:
J made one of these at preschool last year and I liked it so much, that I got him to make several more. This year, J got to practice his counting, by making different width stripes on each cane, and 2 year old K got in on the act and churned out just as many as J (The red and white striped ones are J's, the green and white striped ones are K's and the red and clear ones are last year's).
Let me know if you can think of some American style traditions that I can start with my kids.
PS. The pottery Christmas tree in the top photo were made last year - the one pictured was made by K.


  1. What a lovely blog!

    I can relate...when our family first moved to Florida from the Northeast, it seemed strange to not have cold weather and snow this time of year. We try to play lots of Christmas carols during the evening and have mulled cider. Makes us feel like we're still up north!

  2. oh wow those remind of the ones my grandmother use to make! brings back great old memories!

  3. I found your blog through I just wanted to let you know that not all Americans open presents on Christmas Eve. I grew up opening presents on Christmas morning the way it should be (kidding, but do feel strongly in this area). You didn't mention stockings, and I think they're a fabulous tradition. You hang up stockings for Santa to fill. Stockings can be homemade (rather elaborately at times) or store bought. There are all kinds of traditions than can be developed around them, including how they are filled (just candy, games and small toys, etc). I hope you are able to find some traditions your family enjoys.

  4. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.Thanks