Away in a manger

8 Dec

People generally fall into two camps, Christmas lovers and Christmas haters (I’m am of course excluding the millions of people who have not interest because Christmas doesn’t cross their radar).  I fall into the former camp, and love almost everything to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus.

After a fair amount of bah humbug during October and November, when I rant about the ridiculousness of putting up trees and lights months before the event and the hideous manipulation of small children and their parents that is the Ben 10 advent calendar, come the beginning of December, I do an about face and embrace all things festive.

I love pudgy little shepherds and angels singing Away in a Manger at nursery nativity plays.  I love making gingerbread houses with the children (even if the kitchen does look like the aftermath of an explosion in a ginger and treacle factory).  I love buying the tree, dragging it home then spending three hours untangling lights (I know I should store them properly like my parents, but I can never be bothered).  I love choosing wrapping paper and ribbons and making homemade tags and wrapping presents, sitting on the floor, with a Delia Christmas special or Love Actually on the TV.  I love paper chains and paper snowflakes and angels made from loo rolls and doilies.  I love singing carols and Churches lit by candlelight.

Next year will be only the second time in my life that I have spent Christmas outside of England, and the first time in all of my 37 years that I have spent Christmas without my parents, and I am going to miss it.

The one Christmas I’ve spent out of the UK to date I went with my family to Thailand.  We had a lovely holiday, but it was surreal to see Christmas trees, groaning under the weight of tawdry tinsel, wilting in the sauna-like conditions of Bangkok to a soundtrack of Disney’s Christmas hits.  We forewent the goose that year, preferring a yellow chicken curry in the hotel’s delicious restaurant while the choir serenaded us with carols.  It was not appreciated by the man sitting next to us who stood up and shouted “I came to Thailand to get away from bloody Christmas and this is the third time today I’ve had to listen to that choir”, before storming out.  I’m guessing he belonged to the Christmas hater camp.

Next Christmas we will be in New Zealand, which I am sure will be more Christmassy than Thailand, but it still won’t be home.  I’ll miss the smell of gingerbread baking in our kitchen.  I’ll miss making a stable out of a box with the children then watching them play with their nativity figures.  I’ll miss getting stockings down from the roof space to discover yet more moth holes, then hanging them on the sitting room mantlepiece with the obligatory carrot for Rudolph and whatever Daddy says Father Christmas would like to drink.  I’ll miss wrapping up warm for a frosty walk to blow away hangover-related cobwebs.  I’ll miss walking down our local high street to do last minute shopping and wishing “Happy Christmas” to our friends and neighbours.

I have no doubt that we’ll have lots of fun in New Zealand.  We have been invited to stay with old friends for Christmas, which will be lovely.  But it won’t be the same.  I shan’t miss Ben 10 advent calendars though.


22 Responses to “Away in a manger”

  1. rachel pattisson 08/12/2009 at 3:34 pm #

    What a gorgeous picture! I expect you’ll have a wonderful time this Christmas but you’ll appreciate a traditional English Christmas all the more next year!

  2. Tim 08/12/2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Ben 10? I seem to have escaped that so far… and I’m a lot closer than New Zealand.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 08/12/2009 at 4:00 pm #

      Horrible cartoon that my boys love but results in lots of fighting

  3. Josie 08/12/2009 at 5:08 pm #

    Stunning photo! I’d struggle to be away from home at Christmas. My bed, my routine, my living room on Christmas morning – this is part of what makes Christmas for me. But home is where your heart is and I’m sure that where ever you are you’ll have a special Christmas cause you’ll be together x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 09/12/2009 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks, I know we’ll have a lovely time, but it’ll definitely be different

  4. Vic 08/12/2009 at 5:15 pm #

    I’m not sure I either love or hate Christmas, but probably more that I’ve just gotten used to its presence and am no longer excited in the same way I used to be when I was a child.

  5. TheMadHouse 08/12/2009 at 5:51 pm #

    I adore Christmas now I have the boys. I has become a real wonder and explosion of Joy and happiness.

    Oh and I am sure Ben 10 will be in New Zealand by next year too!!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 09/12/2009 at 12:29 pm #

      I do love having children at Christmas time too!

  6. Insomniac Mummy 08/12/2009 at 8:29 pm #

    That photo is gorgeous!

    You have inspired me to make gingerbread men.

    Next Christmas will be extra special for you and this one will be too!


    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 09/12/2009 at 12:29 pm #

      Thank you. Hope your gingerbread was yummy!

  7. Tanya 09/12/2009 at 1:53 am #

    Gorgeous photo!
    Oh you made me smile! There is plenty of Ben 10 in NZ no doubt advent calendars too (although I prefer the more permanent variety you buy from the christmas shops that spring up in oct with handstitched pockets treasures on bits of ribbon) There are plenty of decorated shops and store personel, Christmas music from october, neighbourhood light your house comps, newspapers that run maps with the best ones to see and buses of old folks touring the routes for the two weeks leading up to the big day. Christmas in the park, the big roll out on Christmas eve as families get together clogging entry and exit points into and out of major cities, candle lit Christmas eve services in parks and at churches, santa watch on TV (even newsreaders get into it) parades, trees and santas. Even though its 20+ (we hope) Christmas is alive and well in NZ although yet again we wont be there this year although for once we will be in a Christmas country for the big day which even though Im not catholic I am looking forward to ! Thanks for dropping by my blog I am looking forward to your travels and your impressions (and the kids too) of the different places you are planning on visiting. The otters that are Canadian sponsored here are at Tamao the ‘wildlife park’ which is about 40 minutes by car outside of Phnom Penh. I must say that in the last visit I did notice how much better they looked too with the sponsorship. Feel free to ask any more Qu you have and if you do come here Id love to meet you 🙂

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 09/12/2009 at 12:36 pm #

      I like the sound of the house decorating comps! I’m sure Christmas in NZ will be great, and it’ll be nice to be somewhere a bit like home with hopefully better weather!

      Thanks for the info about the otters, I’ll have to look that up. I’m never sure about zoos, particularly in SEA where they don’t seem to follow same rules as we do, but I’m sure it would be an experience in itself. Eve is learning about conservation and why otters are endangered, so I’m sure it would be a lesson one way or another.

      We’ll keep in touch, and let you know our plans for next year.

  8. Brit In Bosnia 12/12/2009 at 8:15 am #

    Just wrote a post about Christmas abroad, or more specifically how hard I’m finding being in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so no lovely nativity play for my boys (love your picture!). It is a different Christmas, one abroad, but we decided that we had to embrace other rituals, not to cling to ones that we normally have, and our Christmas last year was brilliant.

    Hate to tell you Ben 10 is huge here, and if it has made it here it is probably pretty much everywhere!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/12/2009 at 4:10 pm #

      I’m with you on embracing the culture of the country you are in, and I’m sure we’ll love New Zealand at Christmas. I think it’s the fact that we are enjoying all our Christmas preparations so much this year, that it makes me think about next year. I’ll pop over and have a look at your post later!

  9. penguinunearthed 15/12/2009 at 11:40 am #

    Ben 10 has certainly made it to Australia, although I’m glad to say I haven’t seen an advent calendar yet! My scottish husband still struggles after more than 20 years here with the idea of Christmas in the heat. One of the things I love about Christmas here is an evening carol service sitting in the park with candles as the sun goes down. I’ve never done that in the UK, but I can’t imagine it is as much fun in the bitter winter. Every neighbourhood has one, and they are lovely.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/12/2009 at 2:00 pm #

      Carols in the park would be very nippy! We have candlelit carol services in Church instead.

  10. RookieMommy 15/12/2009 at 6:13 pm #

    Such a lovely post. You very nearly make me feel like a Christmas lover. Unfortunately I fall into the other camp but I really wish I didn’t. Like you I get annoyed that it all starts too early and I refuse to get involved before Dec 1st. Then it seems someone presses the fast forward button and I’m launched into panic mode and can’t enjoy the preparations.
    This year is our first Christmas back in the UK and I am hosting. I am looking forward to the family get together… if only I didn’t worry so much about the outcome.
    I think I will bookmark your post and read it December 1st 2010 and just see if I can’t enjoy it all a little more next year.

  11. Cafe Bebe 16/12/2009 at 12:44 pm #

    Lovely! Thanks so much for cheekily directing me to your post! I think next year you should start a new tradition…something New Zealand-ish! How great would it be to bring something like that back to the UK.
    Must get paper for paper chains now…you’ve given me the inspiration! 😉
    Happy Christmas Mrs!

  12. wendymallins 22/12/2009 at 10:13 am #

    Lovely! There is nothing quite like Christmas at home!! Minus the Ben 10 obviously!!

  13. soultravelers3 27/12/2009 at 5:34 pm #

    Such a sweet picture! Thanks for posting this on our blog & I’m glad that our post helped you!

    We have found secret ways to make our traveling Christmas just as wonderful and special as home. Yes, you will embrace some new ways, but they can really enhance your experience of Christmas forever and there are ways to bring “home” with you and connect to home as you travel.

    Why not make it a win/win eh? Worry not, different doesn’t mean bad and can expand one’s consciousness. We have loved our holidays on the road!


  1. Tweets that mention Away in a manger « It's a small world after all -- - 08/12/2009

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Victoria Wallop, Rachel Pattisson. Rachel Pattisson said: RT @vwallop New blog post. Away in a manger: <Ur 'shepherd' is soooo gorgeous! […]

  2. The British Mummy Bloggers Carnival « The Survival Guide for Rookie Moms - 22/12/2009

    […] lover Victoria of It’s a Small Word After All deserves top billing as she recounts the things she loves about Christmas at home and what she’ll miss next year when she spends the festive season in New Zealand. She paints such […]

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