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                        Living in America vs England



December blog 2017

Posted by dawngriffis on December 11, 2017 at 5:45 AM

It is December a joyous time for many, exciting time for the children, a sad time for some, a difficult time for too many. I wish I could fix the world to make it good for all. No matter what a persons beliefs are, at this time of year there are many family traditions that take place, besides the traditions from one country to another. This blog is going to cover a little of those.

Here is a little of what many Brits miss about not being home at Christmas time: In Australia and New Zealand they have Christmas in mid summer, it must be hard to re-create what we had at home, from what I have heard most seem to have adjusted, many have BBQs. Brits in Canada, because Canada has very similar traditions as Britain does, it doesn’t seem to bother them quite so much. 

Many Brits in the US say they miss a lot. Other than Christmas Day no one here understands what Boxing Day is. Not having Boxing Day, lots of celebrations with friends and families getting together just doesn’t happen. They are all back at work, so sad.

Christmas cakes and puddings as we know them do not exist, we have to make our own, often many Americans do not seem to have a taste for them as we do, so usually we eventually stop making them. The traditions we have surrounding these times are unknown in America, no crackers decorating the table, to have and pull later. No church bells ringing their various melodies; depending on how many bells each church has, St. Michaels in Aynho, my village church, has 8 bells so a large variety can be rung. To walk to church with the bells ringing on Christmas morning just seems right.

No one here seems to have heard of people going from house to house singing Christmas carols, or even what mince pies are; we are give them to the carolers when they stop by. The mince pies are small and always given to the carolers as refreshments, along with a hot drink. Americans only know the large mincepies, not many seem to like them. Many of our Christmas sweets/candy isn’t heard of, like marzipan shaped like fruit, liquor cordials in chocolate, Turkish delight, all are oh so good! No one has heard of bread sauce to go with the turkey along with stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and you usually only get one vegetable with dinner, instead of 3 or 4.

It’s Santa Clause no one knows who Father Christmas is. No one has heard of putting stockings or pillow cases at the foot of the bed, for him to put your gifts in; all gifts are just mixed together under the tree.

No one in the stores wish you a Merry Christmas, instead its Happy Holidays. I always say Merry Christmas, and then sometimes I get it back with a smile. Some stores open on Christmas day, I think is wrong, but sadly becoming more common. All the posted photos but a few are related to family or country traditions.

So what do many Brits miss, the traditions we grew up with, carol singing, mincepies, Christmas foods and treats, Father Christmas, stockings etc at the foot of the bed. What else do we miss? People getting together on Boxing Day, and other people enjoying the traditional foods.

The people who live in the warmer climates in the south miss not having winter climates for Christmas. Brits think and share thoughts, and memories between ourselves on Facebook, because we are the only ones that really understand how we feel, or what we are talking about. There are special things and traditions here that are really nice, but they are acquired for us, or each family has developed their own. All this sounds very sad but it isn’t really, it’s just at this time is when we do miss home the most. 

This is unlike my usual blog, there is only one poem from Bev, but that one was custom written just for us. She wrote it according to my request, while on her shopping trip to London, which she timed so she could see the London lights. I asked Bev if she could come up with all a poem covering the things we miss to go in my December blog. As usual Beverley came through. Here it is.

“Merry Christmas”

Written by Beverley Coleman

Memories for those of us no longer at home.

Mummy may I sit a while

Before I go to bed

I’m not as tired as usual

And my book I’ve almost read.


Listen Mummy can you hear

There’s someone there outside

Their singing Christmas Carols

Open the door so wide.

Give them a mince pie Mummy

You know the ones you made

With icing sugar on the top

And a glass of Cherryade.


Oh Mummy I’m excited

Is Father Christmas on his way

Will he be in the air now

With his Reindeer and his sleigh.

Oh Memories of Home again

It really takes me back

To my childhood many moons ago

How can I keep on track.


Of decorations everywhere

A fairy on the tree

Cards along the mantelpiece

Sent from you to me.


Of making Christmas Puddings

With Silver Sixpence in

Stirring at the Christmas Cake

Making a wish within.


Mummy find my stocking

I need to hang it up

So Father Christmas sees it

Is that Sherry in his cup.

I close my eyes and think again

Now it is Christmas Morn

“He’s been” I shout to everyone

He came before the Dawn.


My pillow case has presents

Some Slippers he did bring

A puzzle and pencil

All wrapped and tied with string.


No time to time to waste

I know there can be more

Underneath the Christmas Tree

Right there on the floor.

Oh Happy Times...Exciting Times

But not just when you’re young

Enjoy it now with Grandkids

Get down and have some fun.


And when the day is over

We’ll enjoy it even more

Let’s invite the neighbours round

I know they will adore.

The leftovers from Christmas Day

And then some games we’ll play

A special treat for everyone

On a Snowy Boxing Day.

Christmas cake made for Heather Jones by her neice Belinda ( this is a typical cake, dark spot was on the wrap)

Christmas pudding picture from Oldies but Goodies Facebook page

Trifle by Faith Hart.

Mince pies by me.

Father Christmas by Anthony Morris at Blenheim Palace Woodstock Oxfordshire.

Carolers on  Canal St Jericho Oxford picture by Flicker

Carolers receiving mince pies in Oxford picture by flicker

 Beverley Coleman in front of John Lewis in London

Lights on Carnaby Street London by Bev.

some of the London lights by Bev

These are just for beauty and fun. Sunset at the bottom of Litle Lane Aynho by Hilary McIntyre.

A winter scene in England from Facebook

Batsford Arboratum posted by Hilary McIntyre but not taken by her, it's just so beautiful. 

You know I have to have an English robiin taken from Internet.

Most American families have their own traditions at this time of the year. They are often controlled by where they live, because climates are so varied in different parts of the country; or according to their religious beliefs, and what is the custom for them. I think it would be interesting if you were to share yours, especially those special to your family.

Lots of cooking is done in all parts of America, with foods that are special to them; pecan pies, sweet potato casserole with marshmallow on top. Pralines, ginger bread houses, Christmas cookies and candy. 

Christmas cookies picture from internet

Ginger bread house picture from  Internet

Living up north most of our family goes to tree farms, to pick out and cut their own Christmas tree.

Ken, Victoria and a friend finding a Christmas tree.

Jason cutting their tree and of course Aubree is helping him. Notice having to lay down in snow to cut it.

Our family has one special tradition that is being continued. It is the grandmother’s responsibility to make a stocking for each of their grandchildren. My husband still has his that his grandmother made, both our girls have theirs that Mike’s mother made for them, sadly I don't have photos of those. Our 6 grandchildren have the ones I made for them. All the ones I made but one was decorated with cross stitch, the other had tatted appliquéd snowflakes on it. Penny our daughter has made 4 for her grandchildren, and is in the process of making one for her latest grandson. Hopefully now that Jane’s youngest has married, she’ll be making stockings soon to. I really like the tradition.

Mike's stocking 76 years old, made by his grandmother Francis Tyson.

 The 4 stockings I made for our daughter Jane's children, all cross stitched to my design. The tatted items on  Reuben's was specially made for his stocking by a close friend Marvette Root.

 These are the ones I made for our daughter Penny/s boys again both cross stitched to my design.

Stockings made by Penny for her 2 grand daughters these are her own design. 

Levi's stocking Penny's grandson,, still in the making, name still to go on, it will probably be in white.  

This stocking Penny made for her step grand daughter. 

The final stocking was also made by Penny for her step grand son. I think this will  be the last for Penny to have to do. 

What are your favourite family traditions, I would love to hear?

Each year I bake Sandcakes or Sandbakkels, a Norwegian cookie recipe given to me in 1967 by a Norwegian friend in Boulder Colorado. I usually make 12-14 doz giving most of them as gifts. Everyone in our family has continued to make them. I also make about 17 doz mincepies again giving most of them as gifts, so in a small way the tradition is carried on.

Sand bakkels or Sandcakes they do not look anything special but the taste makes up for the looks!!

The next pics are again just for fun

Snow buntings by Jane Glick, our eldest.

Vermont in winter off the internet.

This has been a tough year for our family, but things are definitely improving for Mike, so hopefully 2018 will be much better. I hope your Christmas or your special celebration is a happy one, and the New Year brings you all you wish for, along with peace on earth for all. I would like to thank all our family and friends near and far, who have helped by giving us so much support this past year. 

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Reply Barbara
7:58 PM on December 11, 2017 
Christmas fruit cake. a light one with no nuts as per my husband's wish, but
does have ground almonds. Trifle rather than Xmas pud. Mince pies because I have a friend who makes mincemeat. Home made stuffing for the turkey, my own made up recipes. Cookies of several kinds and I would love a copy of the Sandcakes recipe please!
Reply dawngriffis
10:39 PM on December 11, 2017 
Barbara says...
Christmas fruit cake. a light one with no nuts as per my husband's wish, but
does have ground almonds. Trifle rather than Xmas pud. Mince pies because I have a friend who makes mincemeat. Home made stuffing for the turkey, my own made up recipes. Cookies of several kinds and I would love a copy of the Sandcakes recipe please!
I will email it to you tomorrow, Dawn
Reply Wendy Holsberger
8:57 AM on December 14, 2017 
How lovely - so many things I miss even after being here 52 years
Reply dawngriffis
10:18 AM on December 14, 2017 
Wendy Holsberger says...
How lovely - so many things I miss even after being here 52 years

I agree it is the same for everyone I believe on both sides of the pond.