Wednesday, 19 February 2014

English Christmas (in England!), 2013

So... Christmas! Or, as I’ve been calling it in my head, The Year We Wanted to Go Home but Couldn’t So I tried Extra Hard to Make things Nice. David tells me that I succeeded, which is great because it means my title isn’t a total waste of brain space.

This was our fourth English Christmas, but it did not contain the following things which I’ve associated with English Christmas: Clare College Advent Service, Clare College Christmas Formal, M.R. James’ Ghost Stories at the Leper Chapel, Christmas Dinner with my work team, and Christmas week hijinks at the office. All of these things were missed but most of them would’ve been impossible with the two babies anyway.

For something completely new, we got to attend the Ely Lights Switch-On. That should be fairly self explanatory. Market Square was absolutely packed with stalls and people, there was a big stage where various performers blared bad music (we are so not down with what kids these days are listening to), and the air was full of Christmas cheer. We shared a bag of roasted chestnuts, with Walter joining in on the action, and eventually fought our way to a nice bit of ground to await the countdown. Then the city lit up with Christmas lights and it was beautiful and magical and actually really special to feel part of the community.

Eating his chestnuts

Their Santa Hats from Baba arrived that evening
Our Christmas Pudding!
David really wanted an Advent Wreath, so on the first Sunday of Advent we walked home via the fens and gathered some winter greenery which I then wove into a wreath. I’m so glad that we did this, because it’s one of the first Catholic things we’ve done that Walter has shown interest in. He wanted the candles lit every evening, with supper, and he’d remind me to use the prayer book if I forgot. We caught him trying to cross himself a couple of times as well.

We once again did the tree decorating on the Gaudete Sunday week of Advent. This year Walter was old enough to help, which mostly consisted of him appropriating the Christmas tree box as his new most favourite toy. To save money I handmade most of the decorations and it actually turned out better than I thought. In England people like to hang bright, foil-wrapped chocolates on their trees so we went that route because it made more sense to pay for edible decorations than for ones we’d toss out.

Ended the evening with Christmas baking, of course!
Instead of supper out, we had our pub outing for lunch on Christmas Eve. Then we made ourselves brave and woke the sleeping babies in time for the 11:30pm Carol Service at our church, followed by Midnight Mass. It was funny being out in the middle of the night with the double buggy, all of us dressed respectably for church, and walking past the long bar lineups and the police vans in downtown Ely. When we got home it seemed that Santa had dropped off a couple small packages for the children, although Walter was mostly interested in stacking them and Emily had no idea why we wanted her to rip paper.

We all got to bed at around 2am, but at least the kids didn’t want to wake up until closer to 9. And they’re too little to understand about presents and Christmas morning, so we were able to take things at our leisure. It was a lovely day, with lots of talking to family, and relaxing, and no heavy cooking. Both kids were a bit out of sorts, wanting long naps, so it meant that David and I had a fairly easy time of it once we got them to sleep. Our special gifts for them this year were ikons from the Ely Cathedral Shop: St George & the Dragon for Walter and the Old Testament Trinity for Emily. We wanted them to have something that they could keep for years to come, especially as they are too little to know that we are short changing them on the toy front!

Trying to eat his new cutlery set

We saved our big Christmas dinner for Boxing Day, because cooking a big meal for the whole family with two kids is an epic undertaking. The cooking was mostly stress-free and we ended up enjoying a lovely meal together, right before Walter's bedtime.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely Christmas! Love all the pictures... especially Emily with her crown.