I am sure all of you are way too busy this time of year to enjoy my posts. Since, however, I only have two weeks left in England, I am going to write anyway. Catch up when you can.
I have been feeling guilty lately. Most Facebook entries by my friends have been about cooking, shopping, decorating and traveling- all that make up this crazy pre-Christmas season. This holiday is completely different for us. It is quiet, simple and refreshing. What a blessing. Not that I don't love the craziness of the season. No matter how we all complain, we would be sad without it. It is just nice, occasionally, to do without all the trappings. Of course, doing without the stuff that is annoying also means doing without the things, I guess what I really mean is people, that make it special.
I have been hosting the family Christmas party for the past 10 years. My mom is one of eight so our house was always filled to the brim. We exchange gifts with all the kids- cousins, first cousins and so on. The evening is a frenzy of gifts, relatives and food. This year my cousin is hosting instead and we won't be there to share the fun. That will be hard, but doing without something or someone makes you appreciate it more. The nice thing is we will have a quiet night with our small family. We will light our advent wreath, decorate cookies and wait for Santa. It will be boring yet lovely.
We have been having a debate for several weeks about a serious subject- the Christmas tree. Do we really need one? What size? How much should we spend? How would we decorate it? Most important of all, how do we get it home with no car? Initially, I was adamant that we have some kind of tree. As time went by, the thought of the bus ride to get it and walk up the hill to get it home, wore me down. My resolve was waning. The other day, I went into town to do some Christmas shopping and finally got to check out a store that had me laughing since I saw it months ago. At home, I like to pop into Dollar Tree every so often. You never know what you will find there. Well, here they have a store called Pound Land to go with their currency. It is exactly the UK version of ours. Lots of junk with a few treasures to be found. I stopped in and was thrilled to find a two foot tree in my choice of green, white or pink. After a quick phone conference with Emme, I decided if you are paying one pound for your tree, you may as well go "fun and funky" so I bought the white one. I also bought a box of plastic star baubles (that's what they call ornament), a box of candy canes and lights that are balls with Santa faces. I was thrilled with my purchase- small, cheap, lightweight and unique. The kids were equally happy.
Saturday night was the Carol Service at our church. It was our one holiday activity and we were really looking forward to it. Sam played his keyboard and all the kids dressed as part of the Nativity. Emme played the angel Gabriel while Sam, Anne and William were shepherds. After the service, we enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies in the church hall. How very British! When we came home, we decorated the tree which took all of 5 minutes. We found a Union Jack tea towel to use as our tree skirt and called it our British tree. We decided it is worth packing to bring home. We will set it up ever year and remember our English Christmas.
Besides the simple holiday, yesterday there was another guilty pleasure. Emme and I spent the day Christmas shopping in London. It is a day the two of us will always remember. It was a treat to maneuver the city with just the two of us. We found our way around quite easily. We found lots of great gifts and really enjoyed ourselves. We stopped by Covent Gardens. This area was initially a flower and produce market. It is the setting for My Fair Lady when Professor Higgins first meets Eliza Doolittle. We splurged on eating at Harrod's pizzeria. We took our time and didn't get home until 10:30. The ferry, bus, train and Tube rides were all worth it!
As always, there is more to say but I'm glad you took this much time out to read and I am pooped. Still recovering from the 15 hour day yesterday. Lately, we have noticed a twist on the traditional "Cheers" so often used by the Brits so I will sign off with...