January 4, 2013

Christmas in England: Part 4 - Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day

Most of the time on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas were spent with my husband's family, including Thomas' aunt who came to stay with us. It was so, so special to have all that time to spend with people we don't get to see on a regular basis!   His grandma was very hospitable, and she worked VERY hard to make everything special for the visit.  Our time was spent playing games, eating lots of good food, talking, and laughing so, so hard!  





We planned on going to midnight mass for Christmas.  Since there were serious issues with flooding in England, we drove with Thomas' family in the afternoon to the church to check on the conditions of the road.  We went to Saint Thomas of Canterbury in Fairford, which is the church where Thomas' parents got married almost 30 years ago, making it even more special to see. 


It's a small, charming church, which probably fits less than 100 people inside.





After going into the church, we walked along a street in Fairford to go look at another church.  Fairford looks just like Lechlade, straight out of a book! 

This church was built back in 1491, and it was beautiful inside! 

I just loved the high ceilings, pillars, and stained glass! 




On the way back from Fairford, we walked through Lechlade and quickly stopped in The Christmas Shop! 




Later that evening, we had the traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal, Wigilia, which we started eating once we saw the first star in the sky.  It's a meatless meal consisting of many courses, and my favorite dish is the mushroom soup.  This was my second time getting to eat the meal, and I still think it's so neat that Thomas' family has all of these rich traditions!  Later that night, we went to a Christmas carol service and midnight mass at St. Thomas of Canterbury.  It was a beautiful service, and like I said, it was so awesome to be in the church where my in-laws got married! 

We woke up Christmas morning to eat breakfast and exchange gifts.  Thomas' family opens up their gifts all at the same time, so it was kind of a whirlwind, but it was such a fun morning and I was very surprised at the generous gifts I received! 



We had another traditional meal for Christmas, but this time it was celebrated the English way.  Everyone had what's called a cracker at their place setting.  We crossed arms so we were holding one end of ours and one end of a different one at the same time.  We all pulled on them at the same time, and they popped open to reveal treats inside! 

...along with a hat that we had to wear throughout Christmas dinner! :) 

It was so exciting and fun to embrace the traditions that are so special to Thomas and his family! 

The day after Christmas, we met Thomas's great aunt, his mom's cousin, and his mom's cousin's family.  They were all very sweet, and I really enjoyed having the chance to meet them and talk with them!  

Thomas's grandma organizes an awesome game every year for Christmas - the parcel game.  It is similar to White Elephant, but much more fun!  There was a huge pile of wrapped presents in the middle of the table, and two dice were passed around.  We had to roll a six to be able to choose a present, and every time we rolled a six we got to take another present until all of them were gone.  

Some people had one, some people had none, and some, like my husband, somehow snagged six!  
However, the game does not stop there!  After that, we opened all the presents and set the timer for 20 minutes.  Then we sent one dice around the circle, and every time someone rolled a six they were able to steal a present from someone, with no limits on the number of times gifts could be stolen.  Let me tell you, things got feisty during that game.  Everyone was in it to win it!   I managed to snag toothpaste and a stapler, but the candy I wanted was stolen from me!  Oh, the game was so much fun and we were all cracking up because the same boxes of candy kept getting stolen over and over again.

It was definitely a wonderful, wonderful three days.  It was so very special to be celebrating Christmas with new traditions in another country with Thomas' family and new relatives, who took me in like they've known me all my life!  What a blessing!

The next and last England post: Bath and Swindon 

Love,
Caitlin



15 comments:

  1. I am loving these posts, Caitlin. You are so kind to take the time to share all these pictures and memories with us!

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    1. I'm so glad you are enjoying the posts! :)

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  2. We found crackers at Tuesday Morning one year. Do you that shop near you? They were such fun at Christmas dinner. That game sounds AWESOME! But with the 25 of us at my inlaws, it might be a bit much!

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    1. Yes, we do! That's so neat. I had no idea you could find them here! Haha I could see that game getting really out of hand with 25 people! :)

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  3. What beautiful memories you made!...I loved the picture of the church so, so beautiful I love to see pictures of churches anytime we go out of town that's one of the first things I like to do...stay wam xoxox

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    1. I love seeing churches as well! So beautiful! I hope you're having a great weekend! :)

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  4. I have loved reading these posts! Looked like an incredible time. :) My family also opens up those crackers. (we are not English, though!) We love them! My grandmother gets them for every Christmas, and other occasions during the year! :)

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    1. That's so awesome that you and your family open the crackers too! It's such a fun tradition!

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  5. O My Goodness!! You guys had WIGILIA??? That's so cool! I didn't know your husband has Polish roots! My family and I celebrate Christmas Eve with Wigilia every single year as well!! Start off with mushroom soup, continue on with many traditional Polish (meatless) dishes, and end with fried fish!! Before Wigilia, we also share "Oplatki" which are Christmas wafers that you share with all your close ones, while wishing them health and happiness for the upcoming year....We then always attend Midnight mass. Christmas just isn't Christmas without Midnight mass :-)

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    1. Oh my gosh, I completely forgot to post about the wafers! We did that as well!! That's so neat that you also celebrate with Wigilia! That was only my second time ever going to midnight mass because my family usually goes Christmas morning, but it was a fun experience! :) I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season!

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  6. BY THE WAY, LOOOVE LOVE LOVE ALL THE PICTURES AND POSTS FROM ENGLAND!!! My best friend from grade school lives in London, so maybe I will get to go there one day and visit her :-)

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    1. Aww I am so glad you have enjoyed the pictures and posts! I hope you get a chance to go to London - it's just amazing!!!

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  7. OH the scenary...just beautiful and yes! it really looks like something you see in the books or movies :)

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  8. What a fun Christmas!! I love hearing about all the traditions! How neat you got to see the church where your Thomas's parents were married!

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