Christmas and Boxing Day, 2012

School ended on a high note, as the Thursday before break we held our Nativity at the village church.  I wore my wool coat and my new ascot, looking sharp and excited to hear the school sing the songs they had been practicing for so many weeks.  It was a wonderful evening, with nary a dry eye in the house.  The songs were actually hymns, many of which I did not know upon first hearing them.  Some, such as Silent Night, I knew, but I did not know it had so many verses.  Same for O, Come All Ye Faithful.  Who knew that song had four verses!  We ended that evening at the thatched roof pub across from the church, where the fireplace was burning real coal.  I looked like the ultimate tourist, holding coal in my hand like it was worth its weight in gold.  I had never held coal before.

Christmas Day

We are all a little worried at first.  The kids and I were not sure whether or not Father Christmas was going to remember that we were in England and not Portland this Christmas.  Our home was decorated, we were all in good spirits, and the kids felt that their behaviour had been impeccable lately (us adults begged to differ), so why would Santa not come by?  Luckily all was sorted and our stockings were stuffed to the brim with goodies from St. Nick.  We left cookies and milk out for him, and they were touched upon but not fully digested.  Only later in the day did we learn that in England you are supposed to leave out mince pies and sherry for Santa!

Wearing our Christmas crowns as we sat down to a meal of Prime Rib, cauliflower and cheese, sweet potatoes, spinach salad, a large wedge of stilton cheese, and a large stack of trivia cards that came with the crackers.  We had a really nice meal and laughed a lot.

Wearing our Christmas crowns as we sat down to a meal of Prime Rib, cauliflower and cheese, sweet potatoes, spinach salad, a large wedge of stilton cheese, and a large stack of trivia cards that came with the crackers. We had a really nice meal and laughed a lot.

It was special that we had so many gifts under our tree!  Not only did our families send over some packages, but so did some of our closest friends.  Luckily there was not too much ‘stuff’ in the gifts.  Part of our mantra is that not everything we acquire over here is going home with us.  I was surprised at how much it costs to send a box overseas, so we are telling everyone to hold off on sending us stuff as we do not want to put them out with the cost of shipping.

I will upload more photos when I pull them off our iPad.

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas.  From talking with our British friends we have gathered that Boxing Day is a combination of many things these days.  For one thing it is a big shopping day, much like our day after Thanksgiving.  It is also a day to watch sports on tv, as there are a lot of football games on.  Someone told me that boxing, the sport, used to be on tv.  Finally we were told that traditionally it was the day when nobility would re-wrap gifts they did not want and give them to the help, as this was the day they could celebrate Christmas since they worked for their employer the day before.  I tend to believe in the latter.

Since we did not have any gifts for our servants, we decided to go and visit a castle!

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle was a one hour drive southwest of Melton.  Just south of Coventry and Birmingham.  In Warwickshire, which also happened to be really, really close to Stratford, home of Shakespeare.  I had been to Stratford before, but I thought it was much farther south.

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This place was really cool.  And Warwick was a super cute little town.  The castle is ancient and was sold by the family who owned it last in the late 1970’s, and thus turned into a tourist attraction.  The place was not crowded and we were really impressed with all the things to see, the free tours, how close we could get to the artifacts, and the general vibe of the whole place.  Plus the kids were happy, which always makes everything easier.  We also could bring in our own picnic lunch, which helped to offset the cost of the entrance tickets.

Saint Mary's Church in Warwick, from the top of Guys Tower.

Saint Mary’s Church in Warwick, from the top of Guys Tower. We could see three churches from the tower, all about a golfing driver’s distance from each other.  This church was the site of the trial of Joan of Arc.

River Avon below the castle.  Notice how high the water is.  There was noticeable flooding on the surrounding properties of the castle.

River Avon below the castle. Notice how high the water is. There was noticeable flooding on the surrounding properties near the castle.

Debating divorce with Henry VIII.

Debating divorce with Henry VIII.

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I actually had shown this painting to my students.

I actually had shown this painting to my students, and now I am seeing it in person.

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Swordfighting!

Sword fighting!

Cool old mini-cannon.  This place was nice because one could get really close to all the old things.  At some castles, you are kept behind velvet ropes everywhere you go.  Here, there were some ropes in some rooms, but in many places one could touch the history itself.

Cool old mini-cannon. This place was nice because one could get really close to all the old things. At some castles, you are kept behind velvet ropes everywhere you go. Here, there were some ropes in some rooms, but in many places one could touch the history itself.

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British Christmas trees just do not hold their needles.  It took us an hour to clean up after taking the tree out of the house.

British Christmas trees just do not hold their needles. It took us an hour to clean up after taking the tree out of the house.

Next we are off to Scotland for eight days.

 

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4 thoughts on “Christmas and Boxing Day, 2012

  1. BRAVO, BRAVA! Such fun to read your stuff. Learned the other day that C.J.
    Sansome is in fact working on another novel, but hell, who knows about what?
    You’re correct re: Boxing day. It wasn’t until I was about 30 that I finally learned that the Brits didn’t get into fisticuffs on that day. But then, I was puzzled by the Boxer Rebellion in China: had the Brits forced their Chinese servants to fight each other? Ah, my. Ignorance is such bliss. Best of the new year to you all. Cold, dark, damp, raw here in WC at 4:45 pm, December 28. The cliff looms.
    Bruce

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