Tag Archives: england

The Ghosts of Christmas Traditions Past, Present and Future

While enjoying a tasty pizza dinner together a few weeks ago, my son surprised Dean and me by telling us he was not going to be spending Christmas Day with us this year, but, instead, was traveling to Atlanta to spend Christmas with his friend, Alex and her family. I acted brave, but cried when I got home, and texted him that I was not ready for my kids to not be with me for Christmas.

I’ve spent the time in between thinking about him not being home on Christmas Day and realized it was okay — he would be there the day after and we could squeeze in a family Christmas on December 26 before Clare left on December 27. We often moved our personal Christmas celebration around when the kids were small because we usually traveled back to Elgin for the actual day.

Andrew and I had lunch earlier this week and he confided that he was a little nervous because he’d never not spent Christmas with us and we had our own traditions. He was going somewhere where they had their own traditions, ones he was not familiar with.

I thought about this and remembered that my first Christmas away from my family was in 1978. I was a year younger than Andrew is now and I was gone from early December through March. That year I did student teaching in London and left Elgin early to spend time with my English friend, Jeremy, and his family. I also recalled that I, too, was nervous — although I’d spent months with this family over the previous four years — because I was not familiar with their traditions. It was wonderful though. I was introduced to wine with Christmas dinner, Christmas cake, chocolate oranges and Christmas crackers.

While I never did attempt to make a Christmas cake, I did insist we have wine with Christmas dinner the year after I returned from England. I also always made sure to include a chocolate orange (and a real orange) in everyone’s Christmas stocking. Once Christmas crackers became readily available (and affordable) in the US I always buy a box Christmas crackers which we pop before the Christmas meal, wear the silly hats that come in the crackers, read the lame jokes and play with the included toys.

I sent Andrew a text telling him about that Christmas and that many of the unfamiliar traditions I experienced that year were such fun that I incorporated them into our family celebrations.

His reply made me cry a little again. He thanked me for telling him about my first Christmas away and then said he was bringing chocolate oranges and Christmas crackers for her family.

Stonehenge — Just a Graveyard? Say it ain’t so!

Front page. Washington Post: Researchers Say Stonehenge Was a Family Burial Ground

No ancient sacrifice?

No hooded figures chanting?

No witchcraft?

No magic?

No Duncan?

According to extensive research done by National Geographic, Stonehenge was just a cemetery for a ruling family. This news is a little shocking to me and I certainly do not agree with this statement by Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield:

“This is really exciting, because it shows that Stonehenge, from its beginning to its zenith, is being used as a place to physically put the remains of the dead.”

Sorry, Mike, but a cemetery is not exciting. Now, had National Geographic discovered that Merlin had actually lived and magicked the mammoth sarsen stones from Ireland to Salisbury Plain, that would have been exciting. Or discovering that the Druids had really used Stonehenge as a sacrificial temple would have been cool too.

But a cemetery? Pish.

Jeremy at WoodhengeI did find some of the information interesting though, like the linking of other ancient sites in the area such as Woodhenge and a place I’d not heard of, Durrington Walls.

So, thanks, National Geographic and Professor Parker Pearson, for taking the magic out of Stonehenge. Science — mutter mutter — who needs it anyway?

Jeremy at Stonehenge

A magical Stonehenge moment

Jack at Woodhenge

That guy from Spinal Tap agrees with me: