Humming along to the completely wrong tune

avt_kapyork_large115During my first Christmas in England, my parents came over to spend the holidays with Mr. Charismatic and me.  We took them to York Minster on Christmas Eve to listen to the Christmas Carols sung by a choir.  They invited audience participation so we stood up with everyone else and starting singing but in about 3 seconds we were looking around in astonishment.  We were singing the right words, but in the wrong tune!

Mr. Charismatic was singing the right tune – he clearly knew the songs well.  I was thinking it was funny he never mentioned the difference during his Christmases in America.  Then I realised that all of our previous Christmases were during our long-distance years. 

I still have never done the research to find out why I new all the words but not the right tunes.  Is it another of those things that Americans changed?  Or was the church version just different then the commercial tunes? 

Britians in America – did you notice this?

Visiting Santa Claus in his British habitat

yahooavatar15As an American in Britain, you might have kids here in England. You might be heading to a grotto in your nearest British city very soon (Christmas is in 17 more days lovelies, 17 more days!) No, not a ghetto, I said grotto. Yeah, I was confused at first too. Oh no, not Santa’s grotty, Its a grotto. You know, like a cave? Yes, here in Britain, he lives in a grotto. Not a cottage. Not a cabin. Not a wonderland. A GROTTO!?

First, finding the description of Santas habitat  described as a grotto was the first surprise… santas-grotto-1

“Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas, leeeetle girl?”

No, the Eastern European Santa Claus with the heavy accent was not asking me, personally. You see, I was with Sophie, Mr. Chill’s little niece.

Surprised  by his thick accent, I inspected closer. That’s odd, he looks like he is in his twenties. Oh wait, I can see his dark hair peeping out from his wig! He is so skinny he must be really fit in real life. Is he dating the elf? Well, there is a big Eastern European population here, so why not?

This was the strangest Santa Claus I’d ever seen, not to mention the youngest!

Then, Sophie started crying.

Clearly this was not the Santa she had hoped for in her imagination. Upset by her tears, Twenty- Something-Santa-with-the-dark-hair-and-thick-Russian-accent asked again:

“Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas, leeeetle girl?”

Sophie stared.

“Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas, leeeetle girl?” he prompted again.

“Uh, she wants a tea set”, I fumbled.

Sophie was  still unsure and clearly wanted to leave ASAP… and his elf assistant was not so elfy in attitude.

“Teek a preesent”, he said, putting it in Sophie’s reach.

“Thanks, and Merry Christmas, Wait, I mean, Happy Christmas” I said, and then left, amused by the whole thing.

But the cool thing about being visiting Santa Claus in his British habitat is that he gives each  kids a  toys, for free. Growing up going to the shopping malls in America there were no free toys– just a huge line, bitchy elfs and then pressure to buy the photo. I liked this quirky adventure much more.

And that, dear readers,  was my first English grotto experience.

And to you :

Wvat Vud you like for Chreeestmas?

Wrapping Presents Twice

avt_kapyork_large115I didn’t quite make it home for Thanksgiving and I’m spending Christmas in England this year.   But I’m home right now for my dad’s 60th birthday.  Yay!  It is lots of fun to be here and it was even better to surprise him completely with our visit!  But I have one teeny weeny little thing to complain about.  Every Christmas we haul over a set of presents from one side of the pond to the other.  Then, we must wrap them and make them look pretty and make sure we put the right name on the right gift.  Afterall, none of these gifts were bought by us, they were bought by my family or Mr. Charismatic’s family for us to deliver to the other family.  And of course we must lie to the security officers when they asked whether anyone gave us anything to bring with us. 

Then, we receive an entire second set of gifts to take back with us and wrap again - sometimes even heavier and more bulky than the last set!  (or maybe we just blame the gifts but really we bought too much stuff during our vacation). 

I think Christmas is wonderful and I’m especially happy that our families like each other so much that they want to exchange gifts.  I just feel bad for Mr. Charismatic who ends up doing most of it because he’s the organised one.  Maybe next year I ought to arrange a Secret Santa.

Your British Sister-in-Law and you, the facts

yahooavatar15Dear Readers,

Christmas is just around the corner (21 days lovelies, 21 days!) And you are going to need to prepare. Us 3 gals at Shes not From Yorkshire know the stress of being an American in Britain for Christmas– we’ve been there and done it. Numerous times.

It may be that you will be going back to America to see your beloved folks. Lucky you!!! If that’s the case, you don’t need to read this now. Go get that second cup of coffee and we’ll see you same time tomorrow.

Ok,  that means that you are staying here for Christmas. Chances are you don’t have the clout to hold Christmas at yours this year. Number one reason is probably because you are Americanyou wouldn’t get it right to have the family over, after all how would you know how to hold an English Christmas?

Because you’re American, this means that the hols will either be at the in-laws house or at a sister-in-laws house. If its at the English parent’s house, this isn’t going to apply to you. That is another topic! So, go ahead and get that saved up Oreo…. and yes, we will see you tomorrow, same time.

This means that you are spending Christmas at your sister-in-laws?? You do realise that you will be needing some confidence to voice what you need and what you want and what you expect? You need to make it clear what you will do and will not do.

Repeat the quote: Trying Fails, but Awareness Cures… repeat three times a day.

Just be aware sweet readers, just be aware you will need to be vocal about your expectations because No one else is gonna do it for you–!

Ms British sister in law will probably be be lovely and ask you what you might want to make you “feel at home”. Under no circumstances will she ever actually get it right, not really her fault, shes not really concerned about your needs. You have to realise that she is trying to impress her parents, her partner, his parents, her kids, not you!

Ill have a pumpkin pie that is all I really want, Ill even give you a great recipe since you don’t want me to bring anything, you say. Mr. Kipling’s mincemeat pies will be flogged instead.

I don’t eat meat. she will serve you a nut roast from Tesco’s value range.

I’ll do the Christmas breakfast, you say, to try to show them that you can cook and can contribute, and what a great little lady you are. They won’t like your smiley face waffles. Odd bread products are brought from deep-freeze instead

Hasn’t baby Sophie grown so much, would you two like to take her to the park? she asks

About that point you start daydreaming about your lovely family and how much you miss them in America… I bet dad is on his 2nd Coors-light by now, you  sigh.

And don’t expect your British man to understand, even if he is Mr. Chill, Mr. Nice Guy or Mr. Charismatic. Its his family and you do not want to be in the middle. Nor do you want him to be in anyway held accountable for your homesickness. Its not his fault either.

Christmas at your sister-in-laws is under her reign, darling, and you’re just there for the ride…

Just be aware sweet readers, just be aware and you will feel better…