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.