2 January 2016

our little christmas in england

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we had a lovely little christmas in england. we missed our families, but got to see our parents and every single brother, sister, niece and nephew virtually on christmas day! and we got to spend time with some really good friends over here across the pond.

on christmas eve, i prepared a middle eastern meal for our traditional “jerusalem supper,” and we inivited some friends from our church congregation (who were also far away from family) over to our little flat to celebrate with us. we didn’t make our guests dress up or get in character :) but we did have a really nice conversation about what it might have been like for mary and joseph before they left for bethlehem. we also read the christmas story from the new testament and sang some carols together. it was really wonderful!

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^^ the meal turned out really well and i was proud, so i took some photos :) ^^
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^^ i wore my fuzzy candy cane socks, and we had a chocolate nut yule log for dessert (it’s my third christmas making this recipe, and i’m obsessed! ^^

after our friends left, we walked around the corner to st. martin’s in the field for midnight mass. it was really, really neat. the music by the choir and organ was truly heavenly, the messages shared were beautiful, and singing carols together with wonderful, diverse people in that gorgeous church lit up in the dark of christmas eve night was just so awesome. we really felt filled up with the purest christmas spirit as we worshiped and gave thanks for the baby jesus.

on christmas morning, i let the boy sleep in as long as he wanted, but i was too excited to sleep too long with him! i baked while he slumbered, and then when he did wake up, we opened the stockings we had stuffed for each other on our bed. i opened our bedroom window a crack and the peeling bells of christmas morning, from churches all around, came pouring in. it was really, really magical. we moved into the sitting room and sat under the tree and opened gifts. don’t you love it when there’s just wrapping paper and happy feelings scattered everywhere?

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then, i made our traditional eggs benedict christmas breakfast. except it was a little untraditional this year, because i learned that it is actually possible for someone to not like hollandaise sauce. crazy, but true – and the boy prefers his egg yolks and whites mixed instead of separate…so he got a unique twist on eggs benny, and will every christmas morning in the future :)

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after breakfast (which also included lots of candy!), we went on a quick bike ride under the drizzly london sky in our christmas pjs. we rode bikes together last christmas morning (when the boy had given me a new bike!), so now that we’ve done this twice i’m declaring it an awesome christmas tradition! it was neat to be out on the streets of londontown on christmas – no buses were running, which gave the city a whole different feel. we biked to trafalgar square, down whitehall to big ben, across westminister bridge, and along the thames back home. i couldn’t stop wishing happy christmas to the folks we passed, and couldn’t wipe the huge smile off my face either.

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we called an uber to take us out to epping to meet up with our dear friends amy and rob. it was really tricky figuring out how to get to their house because literally zero public transportation is available on christmas day in england. it’s kind of really cool that they shut everything down, but also makes things a bit complicated if you don’t have a car! we went through all kinds of options during the week leading up to christmas and settled on paying a preeeetty high fare for an uber ride. but it was toooootally worth it to get to spend time with amy and rob and their four darling daughters. they are the closest thing we have to family in england (i’ve known amy since the day i was born, and she has always been like a sister to me), and it was so, so great to be with them.

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it was good to swap eating lots of this ^^ (our candy haul from stockings and gifts to each other) for this ^^ (the incredible traditional christmas dinner that amy and rob provided for their family, us, two sets of missionaries, and a couple of other friends)! the food was delicious and of course we had christmas crackers with crowns!
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i’m so mad at myself for not taking a photo with amy and rob and their girls on christmas! so i lifted these photos from instagram haha! those gorgeous girls on christmas morning before we got to their house (they are seriously the best ever and we love them dearly) ^^ and us with amy and rob last january when we were in london for job interviews ^^

we feasted and played games and skyped families and ate treats at amy and rob’s – it was a perfect, relaxed christmas afternoon and evening. the boy and i brought dessert to share – a birthday cake for jesus! this is a tradition we want to start in our little family. i made chocolate peppermint cake and we lit candles, gathered everyone around to sing happy birthday, and all helped to blow the candles out. it was pretty fun, and the cake turned out to be super delicious!

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we slept over at amy and rob’s, and went to a big boxing day breakfast with them the next morning. then, we headed back home to central london and had a really relaxed weekend together.

a lovely little christmas in england, indeed!

16 comments :

  1. As a non-caucasian reader it is nice to finally see some non-white people in your friend circle and pictures! Happy new year!

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    1. hi grace! thanks for your comment. it's always good to hear different perspectives and/or realize where i might have put off a false impression.

      we don't feel that singing happy birthday takes away from the sacredness of the holiday at all, but rather helps us feel closer to the saviour - but i understand how you might feel differently.

      i should probably mention more on the blog that the boy is very laid back about food. he doesn't really have any extreme likes except for candy! he enjoys sharing this christmas breakfast tradition with me, and just requested a little revision, which of course i was happy to accommodate. he really enjoyed his breakfast and has no other requests for christmas morning breakfast. (for the record, the muffin was toasted and buttered and the asparagus was very nicely oiled and seasoned :) )

      thanks for reading and i have no need to forgive - comments like yours are helpful and you were very nice :)

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    2. Darn it! I came back to delete my comment before you read it. I think I still will. I'm having an unusually bad morning and why I commented in the first place I don't know. Your breakfast looked lovely and I love joy and enthusiasm. You are a gem. (I still cringe at the thought of singing Happy Birthday but to each his own) thanks for your kindness.

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  3. Looks like a beautiful memorable day.

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  4. I think having a birthday cake for the Saviour & singing Happy Birthday to him is a lovely thing to do.

    A great tradition to continue.

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    1. julie, thanks for all your nice comments. it's always good to have a british reader commenting :)

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  5. Your Christmas eve dinner looked amazing. Any way you would share your recipes?

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    1. definitely! i'll put that on my list of future posts :)

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    2. Singing Happy Birthday to Jesus is not a bad thing necessarily (a little strange-but to each his own) - but you do know that most people accept the fact that December 25th is NOT when Jesus was born - the day was chosen because it corresponded to the pagan feast of the Saturnalia.

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  6. Since my children were young toddlers (my oldest is now in college), we have baked a birthday cake for Jesus every Christmas. For me, it was a way to remind and focus my children on the true purpose of Christmas. Before they would go in by the tree on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought them, I would light the birthday cake and we would sing, "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Afterall, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. We know His "real birthday" is not Dec. 25th, but it is when the world celebrates the birth of Christ and for our family-- the birthday cake tradition has been a special one.
    I was so happy to read that you plan to adapt this tradition. My kids have loved it, and whenever they are asked to share a family tradition, it is among the first they mention. We love the Savior and are so grateful for Him.
    Lisa in WA

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  7. How would you feel if people who "loved" you did not know or care when your "real" birthday was - they just decided to celebrate it on another day - a day of celebration for one of your enemies!

    If I were Jesus I'd be rather insulted if my birthday was not only being celebrated on a the wrong day, but on the feast day of a pagan god!

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  8. Whether the 25th was chosen for Christmas because of a pagan holiday is actually disputed in recent Research. But if I were Jesus I might not mind that my birthday is celebrated on such a holiday. If the day of Christmas was chosen to make it easier to spread my message, I'd care about my message. Probably.

    Charity, as for feedback: I like that you went to Midnight Mass even though it's not your denomination. I think it shows an openess of mind. It actually surprises me that in the LDS Church there is no church on Christmas unless it's a Sunday. But then maybe three hours of church each Sunday is enough for a whole year. :-)
    I am Catholic and I enjoy Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve so much! In our church (building) at the end the electronic lights are turned off and the congregation sings Silent Night together. That is magical!

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  9. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

    In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

    The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

    Uh, Yeah. I really think Jesus would want his birthday to be associated with and celebrated on this immoral, pagan day.

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  10. As a disclaimer: We all know that the internet doesn't always tell the truth. But I did a quick internet research and your theory is - like I said above - disputed (p.ex.: http://www.historytoday.com/matt-salusbury/did-romans-invent-christmas). You might be right though.

    As for Jesus: I think the important point that Christmas celebrates the birth of the Saviour and not Saturnalia. So I still stand by my argument, but also confess that I don't know 100% whether this is how Jesus would have really felt.

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  11. Agreed. There are all kinds of theories out there. I celebrate it, more as a family tradition than a religious thing. I actually think that it matters more what's in your heart as you celebrate than where it came from. And who is to say that one family's traditions are "weird" - to each his own.

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