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’tis the season to compare differences (again)

HollyStandby: Holiday season starts here.

Ok, so I relented at the weekend and we bought a Christmas Tree. A week after everyone else apparently had theirs, as Christmas starts in America the day after Thanksgiving.

People have been know to go out on the last Friday of November and get their tree and decorations up then. This is just so wrong! Just too soon! And so I insisted that we waited until it was at least December until we did anything Christmassy.

Christmas CrackersThat’s if I can even use the word ‘Christmassy’. It’s a bit un-PC apparently, and technically it’s the ‘Holiday Season’ and not the ‘Christmas Season’. What a load of old bollocks.

But as per usual, it’s thrown up an enormous amount of “Really? Do you not do that?” moments, which to me are quite shocking. And thus, some of things things I’m going to miss this Holiday Christmas are:

XmastreeMince Pies. Americans please note: They don’t really contain any mince! Just dried fruit. And what I’m going to miss the most is having a gathering of people where everyone brings mince pies, and the quality M&S ones that cost 4 for six get eaten up straight away, and the Tesco Value ones for 99p get left on the side.

XmastreeChristmas Pudding. Americans: You may know this as plum pudding. I didn’t realise it was really just a British thing, but apparently so. I might be able to concoct/make some of my own mince pies, but doing a whole plum pud is a bit beyond me. So what’s the traditional desert at an American Christmas dinner? I guess I’m going to find out.

XmastreeChristmas Crackers. OH. MY. GOD. Mortifying. What the hell am I going to do without a paper crown that tears after two minutes of wearing it, or trying to swap my plastic miniature manicure set for a tiny pack of trick playing cards? That’s my Xmas day screwed. Is there anywhere in Charleston that might import these at all? I need to find out.

Also: No Queens speech to pretend to watch at three o’clock in the afternoon. No betting on who’s going to be Christmas No.1 (X-Factor winner [4/1 ON], Eskimo Disco featuring Pingu [11/1] and Jordan & Peter Andre [40/1]), and NO BOXING DAY … Help!

HollyHowever, they do have Starbucks red cups here, so partial credit. Oh and lots of houses with tacky Christmas lights too. So that’s at least two more Christmas related posts coming up in the next week and a bit …

Standby. Christmas season starts here.

28 responses to “’tis the season to compare differences (again)”

  1. Imabug says:

    So what do Brits do with Boxing day? In the US it’s one of the biggest shopping days next to the day after Thanksgiving.

    In Canada it’s the day to go to the store to return the stuff you got for Christmas and get what you really wanted (after recovering from the turkey-induced coma and egg-nog hangovers).

  2. geofftech says:

    Boxing Day is just another public holiday, where you eat all the turkey left-overs from the day before. Also known as St. Stephens Day in certain parts of the world.

    Mind you, when I was a child – it was the day that you got frustrated with all the toys that had initially excited you when you’d opened them the day before, especially when you’d nagged your parents for it for the last month. (Meccano, anyone?)

    As a teenager, I have memories of picking round the strawberry creams in the big tin of quality street we always had (and something else I suspect you can’t get in the ‘states 🙁 ) whilst watching whatever Bond/Star Wars/India Jones film was on thay day.

    As an adult? Wishing I was a child or teenager again …

  3. Rudi says:

    Geoff: my family does mince pies on Christmas. We even get vegetarian suet to make the mincemeat, so that everybody can eat the yummy stuff.

    We do a trifle for dessert, though. The plum pud isn’t in the cards.

    As far as crackers are concerned: check any TJX store (e.g. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross), as they usually carry crackers in November and December. I’ve also seen crackers at Filenes Basement and Nordstrom Rack. And there are myriad import shops that carry them, too.

  4. Paul says:

    I remember as a kid on Boxing Day my nan1 used to get Christmas Tree presents. It was ace, Christmas lasted for 2 days!!

    Now she has passed on to better places I have “normal” Christmases now. God bless her.

    1 – UK to USA translation: Nan = Grandmother

  5. Thinking about it, Boxing Day is what makes the British Christmas a truly magical experience. You can eat as much as you like on Christmas Day and drink as much as you like on Christmas Day, safe in the knowledge that you still have another 24 hours to sleep, slob and eat up the leftovers.

  6. It’s strange how the US won’t tolerate the word Christmas, yet voted for a president who claims that god guided him into Iraq.

    Christmas Pudding making isn’t actually that difficult. It’s just fruit and booze, really.

    Don’t try and buy any explosives to make your own crackers, will you?

    Did you notice how there were 3-0 comments in the last post, Geoff?

  7. geofftech says:

    About 3-0 more than you usually get, yup! 😀

  8. That’s not fair. It’s about 29 more than I normally get.

  9. jj says:

    we have mincemeat pie, plum pudding and Christmas crackers every year.

    strangely enough, i hate mincemeat pie, plum pudding and silly paper crowns.

  10. Lisa says:

    I’m not getting a tree until this weekend, the southern dessert of choice is pecan pie (there is a little wine Bistro on Daniel’s Island that serves a warm, chocolate pecan pie that is TO DIE FOR!!!)

    And my kids LOVE christmas crackers & insist upon them – you can get them anywhere … I picked up a few from World Market over the weekend….sshhh don’t tell Mary or she’ll stop begging for them 🙂

  11. geofftech says:

    JJ – in the nicest possible way, you are the oddest American I have ever met.

    You don’t conform to ANY of the stereotypes. (Well ok, ONE, but not one that i can mention here…) Can I please see your passport next time to check that you really are a US citizen? Thanks.

    Lisa – Heh, I’d figured that World Market might sell ’em. I envisage a trip down there this weekend. Nice.

  12. Trick question, JJ! Everyone knows that Americans don’t have passports.

  13. zuzula says:

    I’ll bring you a mince pie, Geoff 😉

  14. Chris says:

    The PC Brigade are striking over here, too (no surprise, there).

    I have a friend who is a teacher, and her headmaster has said that the staff aren’t allowed to use the term ‘Christmas,’ and must instead say ‘Winter Festival.’


  15. Mikey says:

    How odd, i love the Tesco value mince pies, so much nicer than the expensive stuff….unless its vienesse

  16. Heather says:

    We laid claim to Boxing Day so we could host an event at our house. My inlaws had laid claim to every other major holiday, so we had to be creative.

  17. jj says:

    # 11 – honestly, based on my experience during the 30-odd years i’ve been alive, i’m the oddest American i’ve ever met as well.

    unless you were referring in a more specific way to my dislike of desserts and paper crowns. as for that, i don’t really like sweets. and paper crowns are an unneeded assault on my dignity – it’s shaky enough as-is.

  18. Jono says:

    Mince pies did originally contain meat (or bits of animal, at least), and if you’re making them properly you should use suet.

  19. geofftech says:

    There’s gotta be a gag in their someone about ‘suet’ and about another brash American stereotype that they love to ‘sue’ people around here. (Honestly, the ambulance chaser company adverts you get on TV here are quite shocking)

    All round to Heathers for a Boxing Day Winter Festival party then! With or without mince pies.

  20. Julia says:

    Can’t believe you are going to miss out on crackers.

    Maybe we should have a ‘Christmas Day Mark II’ when you are back over here and show Leigh everything she has missed out on (including sprouts!)

  21. geofftech says:

    Oh maaaan! BRUSSEL SPROUTS! of course.

    Not that I eat them necessarily (who does?), but I’ll still bitch about missing ’em!

  22. Julia says:

    P.S. Talking of red cups, I tried an eggnog latte the other day. Am now hooked! Needs an extra shot though.

  23. geofftech says:

    Go try a Gingerbread latte too! They’re rather good …

    Red Cup blog coming up on a Geofftech webpage near you soon.

  24. TowerBlockTina says:

    I shall be saving you a portion of those sprouts from ‘Brussels’ (not Brussel, that makes me bristle) and a mince pie or 2 Geoff. You never ate Xmas pud as a little lad, do you eat it now then? Might even home bake some specially for you, with a light dusting of icing sugar on top!

  25. Garion Allen says:

    Why dont we send some crackers out to you eh? You can then add some British sparkle to your Christmas!

  26. geofftech says:

    Well I am back in the UK over new year … i’m hoping that my friends/mum back home will save some for me to have! Or maybe i can pop down Sainos, pick up some going cheap and bring them back here.

    What would US customs make of that? Explosives, technically! Heh…

  27. Jono says:

    #14 Chris,

    Without wanting to call you a liar, there’s an awful lot of these stories about “political correctness gone mad” ( Daily Mail) that simply aren’t true.

    Which school, and what’s the Headmaster’s name who’s given this edict?

  28. Diana says:

    So I was on the internet trying to discover why Brits wear paper crowns at Christmas and I found your site.

    I felt I must respond to a couple of comments and offer some explaination. Yes, the PC-ness of the “Holiday” Season is out of hand. Initially it was meant to include all holidays celebrated during this time of year like Hannakuh, Kwanza and Christmas but has turned into a PC nightmare.

    Second, remember that half of the country did not want the village idiot elected as president and though the fundamentalist half-wit certainly does want it to be the CHRISTmas season, our cultural paranoia has taken over.

    If I have overstepped my bounds and butt in where I don’t belong, please let me know. I just found your site and conversation interesting.

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