Goodness me. The Christmas tree has finally been erected in our ancestral home in Royston, after days, even weeks of gentle reminders (face to face) and moans (out of ear shot) to my father, now a 72 year old man. Timely. The children and I had returned from watching the film “Nativity2 – Danger in the Manger”, which had perfectly put us in the mood for a bit of Christmas cheer and frivolity. Christmas is a time for children so it warmed the heart to return in the night, when it was cold, to be greeted by a house of colourful tree lights and a green twinkling (albeit artificial) tree in the corner of our cozy, open fired living room.
Our second morning in the UK saw us wake up to a sea of snow all around the area, as – unaware of any forecasts – white magic had enveloped our neighbourhood overnight. By 8am we are all in the garden making a snowman, throwing a few snowballs at each other and clicking the camera. Perfect moment for a family that has not spent Christmas together in the UK ever – the children’s first experience of snow in England. I had woken in the earlier hours and taken a few eerie pre-dawn photographs, trying to capturing the Narniasque atmosphere. It has been worth coming back to England just for this!
It has been good to see family – a gathering on Saturday 15th December saw us all assemble in a Hitchin Public House for our traditional fare, and to exchange the first of the Christmas presents. A traditional Christmas dinner at “Dad’s” is planned for Christmas Day – again a first for our children. Socio economic factors have always meant that we have felt our Christmas way of doing things has never mirrored the ‘perfect’ representation we see in the British media and pre-Christmas advertisement waves. As children growing up in east and north east London it never bothered us until we became more self-conscious as teenagers. I hope my own children are equally untouched and untroubled by this awareness.