Sunday, December 23, 2012

Transatlantic Christmas Traditions

This is TLOML's first Christmas in London since he was about 9 years old. We're spending it together, just the two of us, at Fox Corner. Our first married Christmas and probably the only one we'll spend as just the two of us for the foreseeable future.

The pressure is on. It has to be brilliant. It also has to be, I think, recognisably British. During my Christmases in the US I happily sacrificed mince pies, Christmas pudding and parsnips in favour of gingerbread cookies, mashed potatoes and candied yams. But we're back in Blighty this year, so it's time to get back to my roots. Which includes eating mince pies and parsnips.

I know it's a cliche, and I'm sure he was half kidding, but TLOML has asked me several times if there is any beef mince in a mince pie. To be fair, he knows that tradition suggests the use of suet (raw beef fat, let's call a spade a spade here) in Christmas pudding.  So we can forgive him the confusion.

Parsnip confusion is less understandable. After all, parsnips are eaten in the US. But just not by TLOML. 'What are they?' he asked, recoiling in horror as I unpacked the shopping, 'They look like gigantic trolls' fingers.'
Honeyed gigantic troll fingers for lunch

As I write this it strikes me that not everyone has parsnips on Christmas day in Britain. Just as not everyone has mashed potatoes in the US. Christmas traditions aren't so much national, as hyper local. As in, derived from the very precise locality that is your family home.

Well, in my family's home, we eat parsnips and sprouts on Christmas day. And Christmas pudding and mince pies. The turkey is stuffed with sausagemeat at one end and bread stuffing at the other, and served all the usual fare including cranberry sauce and carrots. There is never a gingerbread house.

TLOML is not a huge fan of carrots, neither of us care much for cranberry sauce, and we both love a gingerbread house. So we will act accordingly.

I suppose this year we're creating a tailormade Transatlantic Christmas, and a set of Christmas traditions which will become those of our new family, over the years to come. (Gosh, I hope our unborn daughter doesn't wind up living with some foreigner and not coming home for Christmas, like me.)

Whatever your Christmas traditions, I hope they involve huge dollops of merriness and joy. Happy Christmas!

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