I’ve been sickeningly obsessed with Christmas since July this year. Laurence has been caught somewhere between amusement and horror as I’ve enticed (coerced) him into buying presents from hippie stalls at music festivals and drawing up our Christmas card list. I haven’t always been this way. In fact, it’s characteristic for me to make the mad dash to the shopping centre for entirely unglamorous last minute hunting on Christmas Eve. So I’ve reflected on what makes this one different.
Firstly, my parents are coming to England. If this is indeed one of the reasons my attitude has changed this year, it’s fairly obvious why I’d get excited. They have been up from Trinidad one Christmas before this but I was but a humble second-year student, we stayed at my aunt’s and my mum ended up doing most of the cooking. This time I’ve got a fairly good shot of playing hostess to the people who changed my nappy; maybe I’m now a, ahem, real grown up?
And secondly, I may have finally *accepted* England. I stubbornly have trouble admitting to this one. When I moved to England from Trindad five and a half years ago, I felt shockingly alien. Apart from language, I felt that I had so little culturally in common with most people I met here. Christmas time just made this more visible.
A Northern Irish friend duped me into nearly spitting out a mince pie by convincing me there was meat in it (I was vegetarian and gullible at the time). The were no panaderos, no pastelles, no ham and hops. The carols weren’t even the same and those that were, were song to different tunes. Then there was the cold. I repeatedly got ill and didn’t feel like doing anything with single digit temperatures outside. It didn’t feel like weather to celebrate in.
Worst, my family wasn’t here and my friends were all people I’d met in the last ten weeks who went home to their respective families.So, what’s changed? My mouth now waters for mince pies and I’m already lamenting the fact that I’ll be forgoing the mulled wine this year so I don’t addle the creature’s tiny fast-forming brains. I find myself humming Once in Royal David’s City while doing the dishes.
I think a lot of it actually has to do with the family thing. Not the thing about my parents coming, though that is cool as I said, but I feel more settled here because I now have my own family here. This is where I met and married Laurence. And now we’ve got the creature on the way, who will be both British and Trini. I’ll still be making my pastelles (in foil not banana leaves) but I’m looking forward to my father-in-law’s turkey. Even the winter wind has become a welcome reminder that winter is coming.