Christmas is already a magical time of year, but that “something special” seems magnified when you’re spending the holidays in another country. In comparing our traditions, I find myself admiring theirs and appreciating ours even more.
My husband is Norwegian so we’ve spent a few Christmases in Norway, reveling in the special dinners, the kids finding an almond in their porridge, and even a visit from Santa who delivers a few gifts early in the evening of Dec. 24 before he heads out for his annual sleigh ride. (It makes sense really, being how he lives so close.)
This Christmas, however, we were in England visiting my sister-in-law and her family in a small town in Somerset, which is in the southwest part of the country. And it was more of an English-Norwegian affair.
For Christmas Eve dinner, we had the traditional ribbe, which is pork ribs. This pig came from a swath of land, or a mini farm that my brother-in-law co-owns with some friends. There’s pigs, chickens, geese and ducks. It’s really cool and the kids love it.
After dinner, there was a knock at the door. We all gathered in the vestibule, who could it be? Upon
opening the door, a hearty ho-ho-ho rang out and the man in red greeted us. The kids went ballistic, shrieking and jumping up and down. Santa pulled the gifts out of his bag one by one, reading each
child’s name aloud. When he got to Ethan’s name, my 2-year-old shouted back “ETHAN!” and covered his eyes. It was so exciting, he seemingly couldn’t bare to watch. All too soon, the big guy had to head back out for his long night. The kids played with their new toys and went to bed.
In the morning, they woke to find huge stockings filled with the rest of the gifts Santa gave them. Logan’s two big gifts were too big to fly back to America, so Santa sent him a letter and a picture of his new remote-control airplane and a football goal post and kicking tee.
Later that day was the big Christmas Dinner. My brother-in-law’s parents and brothers came over and then there were the Americans and of course my sister-in-law, her husband and their two smart and charming girls. All told 14 of us enjoyed a dinner that included the traditional turkey and a goose from the farm.
It’s always fun to talk with about what their life is like. Honestly there’s a lot we all have in common, but the differences are in the details.
After dinner we all finally got to plow into that massive pile of gifts under the tree. It was clear, we are all a blessed bunch. Sure there were hiccups, as there always are when families get together, but we had so much fun. The blend of accents, cultures and generations made for a great evening. As the locals might say, I was chuffed to bits.