Now that I’ve just had my first Chistmas in the US I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt with you all.
1. Inflatable lawn decorations are not classy.
I think many people would agree that Americans are often a lot better at Christmas decorations than Brits, especially in regard to lights and Christmas trees. Many British town centres have Christmas trees that look like they have died considerably before being cut and then to complete the indignity the tree is draped with a necklace of lights that has come from the rubbish bin behind a bargain store. Americans do that sort of thing a lot better but they have taken it too far with inflatable yard decorations. I really do not understand the appeal of these things; they might make a war zone look more festive but they do no good in front of a house. Imagine a blow up doll given a paunch and dressed as Santa and you have what many people consider acceptable to cover their front gardens with at Christmas time. There are even blow up Nativity scenes where the characters wave at you as you pass. In addition to this our neighbours have a Santa that rotates his head and it looks like he’s watching me. Creepy!
2. America needs Boxing Day
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that America is practically the odd one out when it comes to not having the day after Christmas as a public holiday. My wife and I both worked on the 26th and she was the only person on her team who went into the office and I was the only person on my team who didn’t book it as a holiday. It looks like most people already see it as a day they shouldn’t be working so why not make the day a public holiday? It makes even more sense when you consider how large the US is and that many people travel to be with their families on Christmas Day. If Boxing Day was a holiday you could eat all the leftovers from Christmas Day and the chocolate you were given for Christmas and then go on a brisk walk to convince yourself that you have earned the food by burning some calories. You could then go home and have enough alcoholic drinks to make time with your relatives seem pleasant. Try it America!
3. It doesn’t always snow
We Brits are conditioned by films like Home Alone to expect there to be lots of snow at Christmas in the US and an embarrassingly large part of me was longing to wake up to a winter wonderland. Sadly we had no snow in our part of New England but we also didn’t get burgled which has to count as a success if we are continuing with the Home Alone theme. It turns out that snow is more of a January and February thing where I live now and this Christmas was mild enough to not even require putting on a coat. Looks like I’ll have to wait another year at least for a white Christmas.
4. The food is different
I’ve posted before that Americans don’t have mince pies or yule logs at Christmas. They also often skip turkey on Christmas Day because they have already had it for Thanksgiving. I approve of this; I can remember Christmases in the past where I’ve had a few festive meals before the big day and by the time Christmas lunch happens I’m fed up with eating it. There was a huge variety of food to make up for the lack of selection boxes of biscuits and Roses too. This week I also learnt that “pigs in blankets” are not the same thing in the US. In the UK they are chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon (because two kinds of pork are better than one right?). In the US they are hotdog sausages wrapped in pastry, not dissimilar to British sausage rolls. If you want my verdict on which one is preferable, I would have to say it’s a draw.
5. Christmas can be fun wherever you are
This Christmas I missed my family and friends but my wife’s family did their best to make me feel welcome; my sister in law even bought Christmas crackers to go with dinner so I’d feel more at home! I met a lot of my wife’s extended family for the first time and I managed to not be the most drunk at the Christmas Eve meetup or the most sleepy at the Christmas brunch so maybe I’ll be welcome back next year. My wife and I went for a traditional Boxing Day walk on the 27th because it was a Saturday and the weather was gorgeous. In addition to this I’d bought a lot of treats from the UK over with me after my recent trip so I had plenty of Cadbury’s, Quality Street and tea to make me feel at home. It turns out that you can have a good Christmas wherever you are as long as you get into the spirit and you have plenty of chocolate that isn’t Hershey’s.
Happy New Year from everyone at Old England to New England. Yes everyone is just me but it sounds better like that :P