Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas, American Style

There's no denying that many Americans really get into the Christmas spirit......


It’s so busy in the Expat household at this time of year – especially now that I’m legally an American and am embracing my new culture heart and soul. All the beds are now sporting Seasonal bedding and,…….what? You haven’t bought seasonal linens? Like these? 
Aren’t they fab?

I also changed all the towels out just to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. My regular ornaments are all carefully stored away and my angels, reindeers and gilt stocking holders adorn every living space. Oh and I have four foot topiaries like this one dotted here and there. I hold back a little by not doing the bedrooms and bathrooms – other than the linens, that is.

The kids love Christmas of course – who wouldn’t when you get loads of stuff you’ve been wanting for ages. I’m having a bit of trouble getting the Man-Child into the matching Christmas sweater though. For goodness sake, I’m not asking him to wear it to school but it would have been nice on the family photo card. I mean, it’s not that bad –

is it? Still, he compromised and wore a red sweater.

I’ve been wearing my Christmas ear-rings for a few weeks now, and have my Christmas Day outfit (red and green of course) picked out already. We’ll be skiing, but they had a great sale on last summer at the ski shop, and everyone will notice me on the slopes. I might even wear a Santa Hat over my helmet, if it will stay on. The kids are a bit mortified but they rarely ski with me anyway, so what’s the big deal?

Is it any wonder I’m always knackered by Christmas Day?


I’m so glad Toni wrote about this, as it is one of the many nuances that make the US different from the UK. Of course, this nuance is part of the more comprehensive difference of the Americans simply being OTT.

I have a Christmas tie. I wear it once a year to my office Christmas party. When you push a button, Santa’s eyes light up and it plays Jingle Bells. This is about as exciting as it gets. Also note: I am the only one who does this.

In this era of the Internet, I suppose the Brits could acquire bed linens, curtains, clock faces, oven mitts, dinnerware and colostomy bag covers sporting festive, seasonal décor but to my knowledge, nobody does. The most they might go for is a holly and mistletoe print table cloth for the big meal, and perhaps some seasonal serviettes to go with it. (They do, however, seem game for some seasonal naughtiness, if the window display in

Ann Summer’s—Britain’s answer to Fredrick’s of Hollywood—are anything to go by. I, personally, wouldn’t know, because my wife won’t let me go in there.)

But seasonal silliness—be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween or Pearl Harbor Day—is an American trait I do miss. The flags, the adornments, the over-the-top decorations really make the holiday spirit come alive. Don’t get me wrong, they do a grand job over here, but that extra oomph the American’s give it adds additional dazzle.

And I do miss those sweaters.

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  1. Mike, it's not silliness at at! It's FUN. You really should get into the spirit of things more, you know. :P (On that note, Toni, I'm totally with you!)

  2. I adore Christmas in London. The holiday feels festive and not just commercial. We Americans can add dazzle, but sometimes it just mucks it up! Although I will admit, these tees are pretty fantastic!

  3. Okay Toni, even though I am a bit of a Scrooge this year, I was with you (a bit) until you sported the Christmas jumper. How much Martha Stewart have you been watching anyway? ;-P

  4. I saw a lady in a Christmas jumper this afternoon at the commissary on base and I may have visibly front of her. I couldn't help it!! It was a visceral reaction.

  5. When we went to Florida I did see a few people in Christmas sweaters. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would NOT have believed it possible. And Christmas bedlinen? Are you serious? I have some Christmas mugs and napkins but other than that its just regular house decs.

  6. You're not over the top until you have a knitted, Christmas themed toilet roll cover.

  7. I've wondered if the difference on the whole seasonal decoration issue isn't so much a question of taste, as storage space. Most Brits simply don't have the cupboard space for boxes of decorations for Christmas, Hallowe'en, fall, spring, St Patrick's day, Valentines day, etc. Most of us struggle to store one change of bed linen. Where would we put the full Christmas regalia?

    Toni - I want to custom-design you a Christmas sweater saying "I survived the green bean casserole another year!" It would be a combination of Christmas and Thanksgiving colours and themes: turkeys and reindeer, Santa and the pilgrims, pumpkins and Christmas puddings (to get the UK slant in there). I feel you're being a little too modest and subtle otherwise.

  8. Iota - OMG, I'm lauging so hard. I think the sweater would need a bullet proof vest underneath though, don't you?

  9. Iota, you have to make that sweater!!

    As a poor post doc here I slept in Christmas sheets year round; they were very cheap one January! And I'm partial to the seasonal earrings!

    My MIL in Denmark goes almost as mad as an American, Christmas is taken very seriously there, too. Not as far as the sweaters though.

  10. I agree with Iota - I can't imagine where most people in the UK would store all the seasonal decorations.

    I have put away many (not all) of our usual ornaments and replaced them with seasonal ones, but haven't gone as far as replacing bedding. The kids' great-aunt has, over time, provided them with quite a collection of seasonal pillowcases though - which thoroughly annoy me because they don't go with the duvet covers I carefully picked out to go with the themes of their rooms.

  11. Oh, and I feel distinctly Scroogish at work (in an elementary school) without holiday-themed clothes. I have some subtly Christmassy themed earrings, and one Christmas stocking brooch bought to support Habitat for Humanity, but that's it.

  12. How I love this blog! Always good conversation. I don't miss the holiday sweaters at all - my mom has one for every season! Love the knitted toliet paper cover idea - icing on the top.


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