For the first time in my life, I am a little stressed about Christmas. December, 25 draws nearer and suddenly the presents I bought for people seem a little crappy, the freezer full of food and drink might not just hold us through the day, and everyone in front of me in line at the shops should have been more organised rather than leave things to the last minute, except me of course, because I have been really busy you see. It must be a sign of approaching proper adulthood.
This will be my second Christmas away from my family as I once again prepare to spend the day stuffing my face with food while buried under the grey clouds that have dumped over Europe. This will be my first ever Christmas, however, of playing host at certain points in the Christmas period. My faith in pulling off the perfect White Christmas is somewhat shaky.
I don’t often tip my hat off to our Pommy rivals without a cause, but hosting a winter Christmas is hard. The seafood platters, outdoor breakfasts, and afternoon water slide gatherings that served as pillars of my Christmas experience and inspiration stand no chance in the rain that hasn’t stopped since Halloween. I must now draw inspiration from the happy English families in Waitrose commercials who gather around Aga ovens and open fires.
Do they know it’s frozen food at all?
When the weather was warmer this year, I had grand plans for conquering Christmas day in the carefree style that my grandmother dishes out with her five-course desserts menu. My home would be cosy and free of annoying housemates, my everything-from-scratch cooking skills would marvel our visitors, and I wouldn’t get to December 23 before I realised we hadn’t sent out our Christmas cards and missed people with presents. In the most dedicated of fashions, I spent many Sundays over autumn trying to perfect the impressive Sunday roast. Initially, my English boyfriend, a somewhat master of analysing his country’s national dish, encouraged me through the lumpy gravy, hard potatoes, and flat Yorkshire puddings that emerged from that oven full of hope. When I dished up a mild case of salmonella, the encouragement stopped and the idea of a Christmas Eve roast got canned. I am now planning on impressing the masses with frozen food bought on sale at Iceland, although in my defence I will be reheating it from scratch.
Christmas: 1 Erin: 0
Merry Christmas, Everyone?
The Christmas challenge continues as I try to host my expat gathering in a large share house with a with a very-limited entertaining area. This means the chances of bumping into the annoying housemate upstairs who announced his plans to stay for the holidays are rather high. So, instead of setting up a barrier outside of the kitchen in a bid to confuse and deter the annoying housemate, my boyfriend has persuaded me to adopt some of the Christian Christmas cheer and welcome him to join in on our festivities. If the idea of feeding my close friends from a box had me worried, then inviting that person who stands at the stove critiquing my dinners every night has me panicked. Luckily, the Christmas Eve cheese platter came from the Tesco Finest range.
Christmas: 2 Erin: 0
All I want for Christmas is Room
Hosting an expat Christmas in shitty weather becomes increasingly challenging when the eight-foot Christmas tree that seemed like a good idea confronts you with the reality of how little room there is in a British rental . The lead up to Christmas has left me playing Tetris most nights with the bedroom, as we try to fit the fake tree, presents, and a mattress for our visiting friend into a bedroom the size of a storage shed. Alas, a Christmas miracle has just happened. Sometime through the night, one of the housemates upstairs silently packed up her room, stole a bit of furniture, and did a runner before he rent was due out into the English night, leaving a large bedroom free for our guest. Halleluiah!
Christmas: 2 Erin: 1
Merry Christmas (Stress is Over)
I have been lucky over the years to have had 24 wonderful Christmases surrounded by family, friends, and the people who have seamlessly perfected the art of Noel over the years. As I put my trivial stresses about parcels, food, housemates, and space aside, I remind myself that the true meaning of Christmas does not lie in wrapping paper or on a plate. As I begin to surround myself with loved ones for the festive season and miss those who are not nearby, the commercialism-hype fades and I can not help but be excited about attempting to take part in Christmas #25. The house is messy, it won’t snow, we will be hosting drinks from our bedroom, and I won’t be able to make that Nigella gravy from scratch for at least another two year.
Yes, it will indeed be another perfect Christmas to remember.