Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Christmas Holiday: traditions.

I missed a whole week of blogging last week, and I feel really crummy about it. After a really rough week that culminated in working roughly 20 hours over the weekend, a mental/exhausted breakdown, and finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I think I'm ready to catch-up. I debated back-dating these posts, but I'm not going to do that now. The gap best illustrates that last week was a gap in my life - totally put on hold for work.  Which happens sometimes, and sometimes it's okay. I just have to get better with the balance, as I try every year.

Catching up is all the more important because in roughly two weeks, I'll be hopping the pond again and touring around Europe for about six weeks - and I haven't even caught up on the trip across the pond that happened three weeks ago.

I've mentioned it a bit, but so we're all on the same page, I'll repeat: I was in England for the Christmas holiday, visiting my dad, mum, and sister, Veronica, all of whom are currently living there. Dad is living and working over there for two years, Mum's taking the opportunity to stay for a couple months while her Dairy Queen is closed, and Veronica has been living there since September, taking advantage of her college graduation date coinciding with Dad's new residence. Cue the collective jealousy. My youngest sister, Steph, and I flew over for two weeks for some merry-making, holiday cheer, and to not feel left out.

PS, I've visited before. See details on London here, Scotland here, and other day trips here.

I'm going to start with holiday traditions because I was so excited to wear a crown on Boxing Day. I was quickly corrected that no one wears crowns on Boxing Day - they wear them at Christmas dinner. Even then, it's more of a publicized, touristy tradition than a real one. It must be like how I think everyone in Sweden wears the wreaths with candles on their heads, much like Kirsten the American Girl doll, but in reality, it's probably not all that common. I don't have any background on that, though.

Crowns. I was all about the crowns. A few weeks out, I started brainstorming how I would make them look. Again, I was corrected that I can't just make crowns and wear them. I have to get the crown from the Christmas crackers. I was dismayed for a minute, then I was fine because I love crackers! I love cheese! I love cheese and crackers so any meal that must start with cheese and crackers and then produce a crown was even better. I was really getting into this.

Then I found out that the crackers aren't edible. They're called crackers because they're like a mini firecracker. They aren't explosive, but they're certainly not edible - unless you like cardboard. I give you Exhibit A, the Christmas cracker:

They're a sort of three-sectioned tube. The ends are hollow, and the middle holds the prize - a little trinket, a crown, and a joke. Everyone around the table crosses their arms across their chest and links up with the person next to them with a cracker between them. I think we counted to three and then pulled. I don't know if that was proper protocol. The middle section of the crackers popped, trinkets went flying and crowns popped out. We promptly put on our crowns and started bargaining for prizes.

I ended up with the mini tape measure on the bottom, Vero went with the decision maker on the right, and I don't know what Steph went with (baby salt and pepper shakers? the business card case? the key ring? the wine stopper?). Clearly we popped more than the number in our family.


We quickly moved to dinner though. We bypassed the English tradition of a turkey for Mum's lasagna. It was a good decision on our part. And Stephie posed with corn in her mouth for the full ten seconds of the self timer. Don't think I put this up here to embarrass her - she went for it.

I think this picture of Mum and Dad is so cute. They look so genuinely happy in their Christmas crowns. This was the first Christmas in a number of years that no one can remember that it was just the five of us. Literally. No other family, no friends, no boyfriends. It's so rare and I'm happy we'll have this holiday, because who knows when it'll happen again. So Happy late Christmas! Sidenote: Happy Christmas isn't really a phrase they use much. I'll get to that later though.

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