Have yourself a telly little Christmas

You know, there’s only 351 days until Christmas now, which means that some shops over here will be just about ready to put up their decorations. As I’m keen as always to fit in around these parts, I figured I’d get my Christmas blog post in early this year.

You see, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas is all about tradition. Wherever you spend the festive season, and whoever you spend it with, it’s the longstanding or quirky yuletide customs that make the Christmas experience so unique wherever you are.

Back in the UK, She Who Was Born To Worry and I had a tradition of cooking the turkey on Christmas Eve, and indulging in a restorative turkey sandwich (yes it had butter on it, people) somewhere around midnight. Boxing Day always sees the family gather together for food, fireworks and games. And the EU wine lake is always a little bit less likely to overflow by the end of the holiday.

Here in the United States, Christmas with The Special One still has its own fair share of traditions. Apparently prawnsshrimp always gets served on Christmas Eve, and trifle is an essential part of the post-Christmas meal experience. If this year is anything to go by, a huge amount of lugging and DIY is integral to the experience, with furnace repair perhaps being some kind of contorted tribute to the handyman skills of that bloke who was born (coincidentally) on Christmas Day.

Still, the levels of the American wine lake are certainly always lower after the holidays, so some things never change.

When it comes down to it, the festive season is a happy time wherever you are in the world. But for a Brit moving to the States, it still comes as a culture shock to find that Christmas is a fundamentally TV-free zone.

TV is an essential part of the Christmas experience in the UK. Special one-off editions of all the big shows litter the schedules, and blockbuster movies get their TV premiere over the period. Chat shows get the hottest A-list stars, and celebrities fall over themselves to get on one-off quiz show specials. And Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a Bond movie.

Maybe it’s not particularly community-oriented, but in the UK, Christmas is televised.

While Britain huddles around the gogglebox, America gathers around the fire. Despite being obsessed by television all year-round, America largely forgets about it over the Christmas period. I’m sure there probably are TV specials, but they’re less advertised than the big new shows that are starting in January. Conversation seems more important than the extra-long edition of Gavin & Stacey, or the premiere of the Wallace & Gromit movie. Spending time with your family apparently takes precedence over Only Fools & Horses. Eating, drinking and cavorting is seemingly more essential to an American Christmas than watching a look back on 25 years of Blackadder.

Put simply, at Christmas, in the US at least, ‘living life’ appears to be put before television. Baffling, I know.

Next they’ll be deciding that being nice to your neighbours or playing with your kids is more important than watching telly. It’s a slippery downhill slope, America.

10 thoughts on “Have yourself a telly little Christmas

  1. IanB

    Post turkey-consumption – cooked on Christmas day and followed by some lovely kind of Americansim of a trifle, FYI – I convinced Lisa that we just *had* to watch The Queen’s speech on Christmas day (albeit a repeated version on something bizarre like MSNBC or one of the other confusing array of channels with the letters M, S, N, B and C in them with one or more random numbers and suffixes).

    Luckily I resisted the temptation to stand throughout the broadcast – although the urge in me to do so was very strong…. 🙂

  2. Silverback

    Personally I can’t be doing without my tv fix over the holiday period in the US and so I store up dozens of recorded and downloaded shows to have my own viewing schedule at this time.

    The old familiar shows started again this week but sadly I’m still way behind and so had to record them too.

    I’m just waiting for a writers/actors/viewers strike to kick in and then I’ll have a chance to catch up. Is it Christmas yet ?

  3. Expat Mum

    And then you have New Year’s Day, with so many football games that it’s impossible to find a bloke not glued to the TV. Not that I went out looking, but it would have been nice to have a little more than monosyllabics and grunts from the Ball & Chain.

  4. Trixie Trouble

    Euw imagine having to emotionally and cerebrally interact with family – how awful.

    I think you’ll find that’s why the Baby Jesus invented telly.

  5. gabi

    I don’t know about you, but I spend at least 4-6 hours watching “The Christmas Story” marathon in fits and starts on Christmas day. My Christmas is definitely not a TV-free zone. Haha.

  6. Erin

    You forgot to mention the best UK Christmas tradition of all: The Doctor Who Christmas special. My boyfriend was so excited that it showed up online quickly this year.

    I do think that television is an integral part of the American holidays too though. Just maybe not on the actual day. I actually have a “Christmas” wish list on TiVo that I check all the time even when it isn’t anywhere near Christmas. There’s nothing better than catching a 90210 Christmas episode or a ridiculous decked out in holy Lifetime movie in August.

  7. Karen

    You gotta have the xmas specials. Having just watched season 1 and 2 of Gavin and Stacey within a week, I was delighted to find out they had a special!
    OH! 🙂

    The thing with the American shows (that I watch anyway) the xmas specials are the week before X day usually.

  8. Helen

    It’s always hot turkey butties (with heinz salad cream) at ‘The Little Chef cousins’ house too!

  9. Alasdair

    Yayyyy for Heinz Salad Cream ! #1 daughter brought me some for Xmas, 2008 …

    Tho I tend more towards the ketchups with the hot sandwiches/rolls and salad cream with the cold/salad type sandwiches/rolls …

    I s’pose i’m going to have to find a good recipe for black pudding, and then a supply of blood with which to make it … hmmmmm … I wonder if there are and good suppliers of kosher blood in the Los Angeles area ?

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