Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about home over the past few weeks... Now, I have two versions of home... there's the home where I currently live... my little run down Cape Cod in New Jersey... and then, there's 'Home', as in 'I'm going home'... and that home is England. I don't know when I'll stop referring to England as home or if I ever will... perhaps England is so ingrained into me, that it is at the very core of my existence... I live and breathe it, and when the plane touches the tarmac at Heathrow, the only thought going through my mind is, ' I'm home'...

During the holidays, I may be, physically, here in the States, but my heart and mind are well and truly 3,000 miles away... reliving past Christmases... my Christmases as a child... I close my eyes and remember the decorations, the smells, the excitement, the food, and even the TV shows (right down to the excitement of getting the Radio Times and flipping through to see what was on the Christmas telly line up)... Lost in a sea of nostalgia, I then set about thinking how I can recreate that here in America for my girls. Now, I have a pretty blank slate to start with, as my husband is Jewish... so, as the girls experience all their firsts at Christmas, so does he... I am the seasoned veteran in this house.

I get to pick and choose what Christmas traditions I want to carry on, and, along the way, even throw in some new ones.... Unfortunately, some of the traditions from England I've had to leave behind, due to my geographical location... bye bye, Queen's Speech and Top of the Pops...

... some of them, I manage to keep going, even though it becomes a little pricier when paying import prices... case in point, Quality Streets... to anyone from the UK, these chocolates are synonymous with Christmas (well, they were in my house). The opening of the Quality Street tin of chocolates on Christmas Eve signalled the start of the festivities... now, they're not particularly tasty, but I'm sure most people don't get them because of their deliciousness, but simply, because that is just the way it is... I still manage to get these in for the season, but, instead of a generic chocolate price tag, they now cost the same as a swanky Belgian number! Is it worth it? Yes... to watch my girls oohh and ahh and pick out their favourite colour... just like I did many moons ago...

Another tradition was reintroduced this Christmas... after discovering a holly bush by chance... and so, the other day, I nipped down to the waterfront (secateurs in hand) and liberated some holly from said bush... it was laden with berries and perfect for trimming up the house... the very act of carrying bushels of holly into the house reminded me of walking across the fields with my father as a child... the hazy sun low in the sky, frosty ground under foot, seeking out the bright red berries amongst the hawthorn hedges... old rickety wooden stiles and cattle gathered around the feeding trough, piled high with food... we would bring our bounty into the house and trim the old mirror over the fire, and it would stay there, 'til the leaves went brittle and the plump berries would wrinkle... so, even though this experience was so very different from my English holly gathering days, the simple sight of holly in my little home will always keep my memory alive...

So, this year, I'll be pulling a Christmas cracker, eating Christmas pudding, while drinking a glass of port... bringing a little bit of 'home' Christmas, into my new home...

It's been good catching up with you all today... I've missed writing this little old blog and sharing my thoughts with you!
Take care.


  1. Oooo those Quality Street look good! I also posted about them recently and mentioned that I need to consider another mortgage to buy some of the stuff that is just synonymous with a UK Christmas!!
    I know what you mean about "home". You'll never not be English so I think that will always be "home". I've taken to refer to Wales as "home, home" and Australia as just "home"!
    It also gets a bit confusing for me as I've spent longer living in England than anywhere else!?! What's the saying? 'Home is where the heart is'
    Love your tree with the links to England, and I think it's wonderful that you are keeping some Christmas traditions going with your girls.

  2. Loved reading about the traditions you're keeping going in your family and as for Quality Street, my fave is the green triangle :)

  3. A gorgeous post, Laura. Wistful and yet positive as you create your own traditions for your girls. Just lovely. And I'm with Amanda, the green triangle's my fave, too! J x

  4. What a lovely post. I hope you have a fantastic Christmas. Enjoy all the chocolate!

  5. This post totally rings true with me. My home is now Italy but I still say I'm going 'home' whenever I visit my native Scotland. I have never ever spent a Christmas away from Scotland. This year we were going to have our first Christmas with my husbands family in Italy but at the last minute I changed my mind and we're leaving for Scotland next week.

    Christmas just wouldn't be the same anywhere else. I love all of our family traditions, going to our village hall for mince pies and mulled wine on Christmas Eve, all of the Christmas specials on TV (we used to go through the TV Times too and mark out all the films we wanted to see), the Queens speech, turkey and brussel sprouts....... I can't imagine eating pasta on Christmas day like they obviously do here in Italy.

    I'm sure that one day when we have our own family we will spend more Christmases in Italy and we'll begin to make our own traditions. But for now I'm going home.

    Have a beautiful Christmas x x

  6. Home to me is always
    synonymous with my
    parents and for most
    of my married life we
    have gone "home," meaning
    where they live to be together.
    Since my brother {finally!} got
    married and now has wee ones,
    my parents have started coming
    to us. This year, we are all
    travelling home {perhaps for
    the last time} and I'm sure it
    will be bittersweet, for all the
    reasons you list. I will soak
    up the holly {grows wild there, too}
    and Douglas firs and misty mornings
    and their Christmas china and lovely
    fresh hazelnuts....and just that
    feeling of being in that corner of
    this big old world that feels like
    home. Thank you for sharing all of
    your lovely memories, Laura!
    xx Suzanne

  7. the way you wrote about england was absolutely gorgeous. i've never been, but i'm dying to one day. it sounds truly magical. and i also snipped some holly front from a bush outside my house! such a fabulous, free decoration. happy thursday, friend!

  8. Let me just say, no one has more Christmas traditions than England. Some have been adopted by the US, but many have not. I feel like it will take years just to hear of all of them. I just learned about the Queen's speech a few days ago. Thank you for being a part of my England handbook!! I need you :)
    XO L

  9. I've just found your blog, will settle in for a good read and a cup of tea as soon as I can. I am Australian, living in Belgium now with two little kids. I'm also trying to recreate fond Christmas traditions from my childhood. It's also lovely to be able to begin new traditions too, that can belong to your family alone, regardless of where you live. I'm working on that right now... x

  10. Golly Laura, I can't beleive you don't have quality streets chocs, we have them in poor darling...missing England as well. I'm having a lovely time here in your old home...every time I turn around someone hands me a mulled wine and shoves a mince pie in my mouth! The shops are brimming with goods that I never see in Aus. mainly because a lot of it is geared to cold weather and food! I think I'm going to explode with the quantity of 'comfort food' being consumed...I especially love pigs in a blanket...what a delicacy! Don't be too could be could be stuck in Aus. with a temperature hovering in the high 30's for xmas day! Robx

  11. Laura - You just summoned up a so traditional English Christmas! It is lovely that you introduce it to your home in America. You know it is going to be freezing here with lots of snow and you know how we cope with that!!! Enjoy you week and raise a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie to you.
    love jillxx

  12. Oh sweetie, I feel for you. We are going *home* next week, we can drive it in 8hours (with pee-stop) but you have to get on that airplane, time difference etc. (my sweetheart is now in US, I forgot how odd it feels to be so much ahead in time...). What I mean to say is, home is for you UK, for me Amsterdam, being with family and friends this time of year. So I hope you will enjoy those expensive chocolates, (we also have them in the netherlands, do you want me to send more?), teach your girls the UK traditions, they will love you later for it, and make lots of photo's. You never know if you later will say, "that was when we used to live in the US...". Who knows, maybe you will go back (home) one day to live, or for a couple of years. So, this is a long comment, I'm rambling away here (have to hurry, my girls are waiting in pj's, it's bedtime, but I wanted to *talk* to you since this morning, and now it's already evening here, so sweet Laura, I've got to love you and leave you, for now that is. Cheers! (that's what you say in England right?)
    Maureen xx


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