Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Well, I am reading all about turkeys and pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, but here we do turkeys for Christmas. So what do Americans eat for Christmas? More turkey? I don't think I could face 2 in 2 months. And all the leftovers. In actual fact, I have no idea why we eat turkey at Christmas. In Europe they certainly don't, and my brother-in-law is more likely to cook lamb. In Europe it is all about Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day is fairly normal. Christmas in an Alpine village is worthy of a post of its own.

We don't have Thanksgiving here, and I have said before that it is the one holiday I think the whole world should celebrate too. We all have so much to be thankful for after all. But in case I forget, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it this week!

When we were children, in South Africa, we were always convinced we would be the only children in the entire world with no tree, because my father used to bring ours home late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. The excitement was unbearable, and the fear he would forget! We used to sit on the pillars at the end of the driveway waiting for his car to appear, hopefully with a tree strapped on the roof. We would decorate it and then after we had gone to bed, he would do the lights and we would creep through in the morning and the room would be full of twinkling lights and parcels. Magical.

In England, the trees go up round the beginning of December, and so do the house lights, which seem to multiply by the year. Given that the houses are very close to each other, it can be a very bright affair. Advent is important, and my sister in Switzerland, Mum, when she was in South Africa and I used to light our advent candles at the same time on a Sunday evening, in 3 time zones, so we shared the feeling of being together though so far apart.

And there is Christingle here too at the start of December, although I had never heard of that before we got to England. We collect money in a special envelope for children who are in need, and during the Christingle service, everyone gets a Christingle. It is an orange (the world) with a red ribbon around it (blood or love of Christ), dried fruit on 4 cocktail sticks (the 4 seasons and fruits of the earth), and a white candle in the centre (Jesus, the Light of the World). It is a lovely service, especially when the candles are lit during it.


Katherine said...

The nutters on the next street have ALREADY covered the front of their house with flashing lights. Literally from top to bottom, in various shapes: stockings, stars, santas etc etc. Last year they had a life size light up plastic nativity set in the front garden. I can't wait to see how it develops! To picture this fully you have to appreciate that the area I live in is made up of 1930s terraces, all quite small and all quite grey - it's not an affluent area at all. So actually, all the lights make quite a nice change. I've yet to see a house that beats Wilby though!



Morning Glory said...

Those are some really lovely traditions. I really like the simultaneous advent candle lighting!!

In past years we have actually had turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it's so much work for both holidays. One year I fixed a crown roast of pork and it was beautiful. Last year we really changed the traditions and did fondue. That was really fun. This year we'll have turkey for Thanksgiving but I'm not sure what for Christmas dinner.

I'm anxious to get Christmas decorations out and house lights up, but I just canNOT do it before Thanksgiving is over with!

Barb said...

When I was growing up, we had turkey on both days. A month between giant turkey feasts is not enough time in my opinion. Now that I do my family's dinners, we have the traditional turkey feast on Thanksgiving and a wonderful ham with all the trimmings on Christmas Day.

All your traditions, the excitement of waiting for your father to arrive with the tree, just gave me a warm feeling. I especially love the meaning behind the Christingle. How nice.