Well, not yet, but it is December in England and Christmas has been upfront for a couple weeks now. In fact, the first I saw of Christmas decor was sometime around the very beginning of November. Since there is no Thanksgiving, and Halloween is not that big of a business, Christmas starts as soon as it can.
When we first found out that I had received the Fulbright fellowship the kids showed some trepidation, for obvious reasons. Leave home for a year? Say goodbye to their school and go someplace else? As a convincing argument, I told them that England was where Christmas was invented. At the time it helped a little. Now, they see how much England embraces the Christian holiday and they are absorbing it all.
Friday, November 30th, the city of Melton lit up the town Christmas tree and had a big celebration in the town centre. We were not there as Rebecca was a football practice with Zachary, and Annika was at home with me. Plus it was about 25 degrees out (F) which is very cold. At the end of the tree lighting ceremony there was a HUGE fireworks display, visible from my kitchen window. Rebecca saw it too, and other parents at practice commented on how the city is too broke to fix potholes, but has the funds to light off fireworks to honour the Christmas tree. Go figure.
Melton continued the celebrations all weekend. On Saturday we went into town with Kaye and her two children (Kaye co-teaches the Year 5/6 class). First we went to a Methodist church to see the cradles, which was a collection of donated Nativity scenes. Some were collected by church members from all over the world, but many were made by artisans or by the parishioners themselves. The numbers in the pictures tell you how many there were on display.
Next we were off to Saint Marys church for the festival of trees. The church is full of trees donated to the church. Each one is decorated by the donor. Most advertise a business, but many come from schools in the area. It was quite a sight to see around 300 Christmas trees all decorated. The kids just loved the whole thing, and that made us happy.
The following day, Sunday, was the Victorian Fayre in town, which was pretty much the same thing except the store owners all dressed up in Victorian outfits, it was twice as crowded, and there were other Christmas-y things for people to look at. I was out with Christopher, Kaye’s husband, getting our Christmas tree. Rebecca went down with the kids without me.
Lastly, whilst I was falling asleep on the couch after a meal of British bangers, potatoes, salad, brussels sprouts, and a couple ales, a knock came upon our door. Is that music I hear? Sounds of Christmas so soon? Did I fall asleep for three weeks?
Could it be Santa?
Yes, Santa came down our street riding on a giant motorized float with a cadre of elves going door to door collecting money for the Rotary Club. Surreal to say the least. Christmas music was blaring and neighbors up and down the street were out looking at good old St. Nick waving to the fellowship of Rudbeck Ave. The elf standing at our door, with collection cup in hand, was more surprised that I was so surprised. The elf obviously finds nothing surprising in the sight.
And it is only December 3rd. What should I expect to see next?
PS Here is a rundown of all the Christmas stuff I get to do at school over the next three weeks: Make two different sets of Christmas ornaments (already done), make Christingles (look it up), Nativity at our village church (nighttime affair where the students will sing traditional hymns, re-create the Nativity, and I get to wear my new ascot tie), Christmas dinner (lunch; students first, then staff and our staff gift exchange), a visit from Father Christmas, Christmas cards for families, and making our Christmas calendars. We are a Church of England school so this is typical and I am enjoying all of it since I enjoy the holiday. I do fret that I cannot get the teaching in I want to, but I was warned of this months ago so I am sorted.