December 19, 2012

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling

We love Christmas. Gingerbread houses, drinking eggnog lattes at Starbucks (well, I do) decorating with sparkly ornaments and dazzling giant nutcrackers bought years ago. We love it all. So when faced with the annual challenge of creating Christmas in a new country, the task is daunting. Happily, the English love Christmas as much we do. Yet with all the charm an English Christmas season brings it is missing one American touch. The gigantic tree. I never gave a great deal of thought regarding the arrival of the 9 foot tall tree in our home each year. A lovely little shop in town delivered the sweetest smelling “most beautiful tree ever” and took it away when called in January. This wonder happened because, why? Christmas tree forests. Hundreds and hundreds of acres of dedicated farmland growing big, sprucey lush trees.

England does not have these farms.

England has little trees.

As our exuberant love of Christmas is represented by the tree, we set off to find our jewel with 11 year old daughter and 8 year old son leading the way. 15 year old son begged off with mumblings about studying and finals but I, being razor sharp, sensed a certain disinterest in the project. Not to worry, we will return with our beauty and you can help decorate. Excitement lit up his eyes – not.

First stop, the local garden center. Driving into the parking lot we feel salmonish, as hundreds of tiny cars drive past us. Jammed inside the tiny cars – two to three tree trunks poking through the front seats. So much for the question of delivery.

Undeterred, we proceed with anticipation to the back of the shop and acres of trees. Yippee! My youngest ran ahead and found one instantly. It was 5 ft. tall and sparse. Upon perusal, all the trees were 4 – 5 ft, mis-shapen and bare. In the states, the whole lot would have been last weeks rubbish. “Now that’s a beautiful tree” I hear from the tree hawker behind me. “Shall I wrap her up for you?. “We were looking for a fuller one” “Fuller than this?” I have shocked this man out of his socks. “You’re not going to find one fuller than this!”. As I ponder Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree my daughter chimes in “But our tree last year was 9 feet tall. We always have a BIG tree.”

Re-creating Christmas away from what your children have known as their only home is hard. They want everything to be the same. It’s not so much the height of tree as that all aspects of the holiday season are different. I’m finding that I want to recreate the familiar as well. But it’s not possible. No matter how similar it may appear, it is still different.

We decide to continue our search.

The following weekend we pass a large hand painted sign on the high street. GRADE A X-MAS TREES , TURN HERE.
So, of course we did. A small local florist had stacks of trees tilted against the back of her shop. Lush, sprucey BIG hearty trees.

And she delivered.

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


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