Just received a bag full of Christmas cards from the post man today! It was such fun fighting over them all at the kitchen table! We all LOVED them and I think I just may tape then up to our front door for us to look at for the month of January! It's so great to see all your smiling faces! Thank you so much!!!!!
1. Children give one another little Christmas Cards. So cute. Sort of like we do for Valentine's day.
2. The children have a Christmas Dinner at school, like we do for Thanksgiving. A special feast complete with English Christmas Crackers. Click here for more on Christmas Crackers.
3. Jaxon's class performed a Nativity at school complete with shepherd's wise men, angels, & a baby Jesus. They even sang Away in a Manger. It was adorable.
4. Dallin's class performed a Christmas Program in a nearby cathedral. It was a 45 minute program of readings and religious songs. It was fabulous. So, so different then back home! Also, no cameras or video cameras, so that swarm of parents that surround every school performance was non-existent. Which meant everyone was in their seats enjoying the program (except me, I pulled my iphone out...shhhh.)
A clip from Jaxon's Nativity... (dallin's will be added tomorrow).
1. Like the Nativity Program at school, the children in the ward, performed during our 3rd hour of church for the entire congregation. It was fun.
2. That christmas card tradition must just be an English thing, because it extended beyond school. At church people would leave cards for you on a table in the foyer? Don't know if this is an English thing, an English Mormon thing, or just an our little congregation tradition. So we joined in and saved money on stamps!
3. They have a traditional Christmas Carol serivce on Christams Eve. Apparently they used to even do it at 11pm, thank goodness they've changed that! Not sure if we would have attended. It was just an hour long program that included some readings, a few performances, and mostly the congregation joining in on singing Christmas Carols. Did you know that we sing a different tune to O Little Town of Bethlehem than they do? And they say Beth-LE-hem. Dallin's already picked that one up.
1. Well, we usually have our traditional ham or turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. We enjoy a feast, and then have a Christmas devotional of some sort that includes reading the Christmas story from the Bible and discussing the significance of the occasion. After dessert we open a gift with new pjs, then we head to bed. But here, we were asked to help with that Christmas Carol Service, so we were busy that day preparing for it, and were away from home when we would have been doing those above mentioned activities. So in lieu of the feast we ordered Pizza, and in lieu of reading through the story on Christmas Eve we did it the night before and enjoyed singing Christmas Carols with among new friends. To make it clear, Christmas Dinner is very important here. It's like our Thanksgiving. I don't think Christmas would be the same for them here without it. And since we're used to doing it on Christmas Eve, it doesn't make much of a difference for us. But I did it the English way this year, with an open mind, and I have to say, I do think I prefer having the meal and scriptures the night before. It brings with it a measure of reverence that we so enjoy during this season. It was a little tricky to have the kids in for a nice meal at 3 pm on Christmas Day, after they've been lolligaging around in their PJ's all morning. So I may just rock the boat next year, and do it the Tucker way. I specify Tucker way, because I realize we all do things a bit differently don't we. So who am I to say this is how Americans do it and this is how they do it in England? Except they really do ALL have Christmas dinner on Christmas. Hee hee.
2. Since we were far away from our family, we invited the missionaries to join us for the day. And if you recall, we enjoy having the Elders over. It makes us feel a little bit, like we're among friends and family, like we would be back home. Well, they came over and woke up the kids at 5AM!!!!! We had torn through all the gifts by 7am, and spent the morning playing card games, playing with new toys, and hanging out. It was a rainy, rainy day, but the sun broke out for a few hours, (what they call a sunny spell here, and we headed out to the park to try out new skateboards, scooters, and play some proper football and learn some lacrosse. Elder Mecham played Lacrosse for BYU and had his sticks shipped to him for Christmas. It was a lot of fun.
In the City:
1. The Salvation Army. I didn't hear any bell ringers this Christmas. Instead, I heard singers, brass bands, quartets, you name it. All performing great Christmas songs with that famous red can out front collecting change! I particularly loved the brass instruments playing Hark the Herald Angels Sing in our local train station a couple weeks ago.
2. Shopping: It's been a bit difficult preparing Christmas without your go-to stores. I'm not saying my Brittish friends don't have their go-to stores, but I haven't figured them out yet. And so, a whole lot of my shopping was done online. Thank heaven's for amazon.co.uk! Can you imagine, preparing for Christmas without a Target? Seriously, it was a challenge!
I had to ask 3 people where to buy a meat thermometer, and still never came across one in time for Christmas dinner. Kills me.
We had a great Christmas. Differences abounded, but so did the similarities. It's definitely a little more Christmas here I think and a little less commercial, or politically correct. I definitely felt the Christmas spirit throughout the month and pray it will linger on! That's the challenge then, isn't it. We love and miss you dear family and friends. And pray you are well and enjoying the same spirit of Christmas.
Below are some pictures of our day. They are totally out of order. Good Luck!
This was simply magnificent! I loved everything about it. The show was well done, the theatre was great, our seats were great, the special effects were awesome, and the script...well can you beat A Christmas Carol? It really was a fantastic show and all in all a wonderful evening and festive start to our Christmas season.
I have memories of this beloved tale in my youth, and I recall it bored me. I'm not sure I ever had the attention to stay up for the entire TV special. But now, I'm not quite so youthful, and the message of this story has me captivated. I just loved it! So I'll share a couple quotes that hit me..
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
"He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."
"He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew, "that's the truth: and not so pleasant as he might be. However, his offences carry their own punishment, and I have nothing to say against him."
"Lead on!" said Scrooge. "Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!"
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"
Jason has been traveling quite a bit. I'm sure I'll forget some places, but the list might look something like this:
Munich and Frankfurt, Germany
Prague, Check Republic
Tel Aviv, Israel; Rome, Italy, Bolgna, Italy; Vienna and Salzburg, Austria; Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland, Brussels, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and I believe he's been somewhere in Norway, and Poland. I'm sure he'll read this and correct me within a few weeks.
Well, it wasn't until just this month that I came up with the idea that he should be buying Christmas ornaments wherever he goes. So, we are just getting started! The one above is made from blown glass and is painted from Stockholm. Jason's in Finland as I type, let's hope we have a new one to update the post with by Friday!
These are hand carved out of wood, they are so beautiful! I just love them. And these are from a Christmas Market Jason went to in Munich one evening after work. He said it was quite an experience, and that I need to go with him next year. Here's hoping!!!
Anyway, there's a boy one and a girl one.
Then, these are hand painted on real hollowed out eggs from Prague. Jason picked out three. However, Jaxon got to one of them. And, well, that's the end of that one...
Then, instead of getting an ornament, while Jason was in Tel Aviv, he snuck into Bethlehem and purchased this Olive wood nativity. I should gather a few of Jason pictures from his iPhone and create a post about his Jerusalem adventure soon! It was a trip I was very nervous about him taking.
Now to show you a little more of our holiday decorations. Note, we left all this sort of stuff behind. So we made some of our own. We had to get creative. So these ornaments are made from toilet paper rolls...
Janae and Emily made up these snowflakes for our stairs!
And since we didn't have stockings either, we needed those too! When it comes to decorating this house, my mantra might as well be , WHY NOT??? So, we bought some felt stockings, and just let the kids make a go of it! They had so much fun, made a huge mess while doing it, and they are fantastic. I wasn't uptight about, oh, it has to be perfect! Or the house has to be just "so!" NOPE! Recall: why not? And quite frankly, I may need to adopt the same mantra when I return. Sure it may not be what you had in mind, but it's till beautiful in a different way. Who knew?
You really ought to zoom in. Because they are precious! And they are each so different. Jaxon spelled out his name! Janae got a little creative with the glitter glue, A.J. created a whole nativity scene, Emily has those ornaments attached with a thin gold thread, and Dallin and I worked together to create his. He was the only one that wasn't totally in his element. It was a blast. We hope they get filled to the top!
A Christmas Market under the London Eye
We've strolled through this market now, like three times. Jason went once with Nathan and Kathy when they were visiting. I went back with Kathy and our girls, then we all went Saturday as a family. We enjoyed warm roasted nuts, frankfurters, licorice, and bought this stuff that turns into snow when you add water. London's all lit up, and the atmosphere is great. However, I did enjoy it earlier in the month when it was less crowded than this last time. Dallin had this bear from school that he has to write what he did with over the weekend. So you'll see Henry the bear in these shots!
I'm not sure where to begin to explain what a Christmas Pantomime is. This is totally English! That or maybe totally not American! But what a lot of fun. We will definitely do it again next year. So I actually had to read on Wikipedia to learn what a Christmas Pantomime is. It's a tradition that has been going on forever, and since the early 1800 children have enjoyed attending these shows each Christmas. They are typically classic children's stories: Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. And it's loud, silly, modern, and interactive. So when Captain Hook comes on stage the audience yells, "BOOOOOO" Capn Hook and Smee shot the audience with water guns, threw out candy, the Crocodile came out and danced Gangman Style, they sang a Mary Poppins tune, a One Direction #, Party Rock, and a couple classic Peter Pan tunes like Neverland. We yelled back and forth to the characters, "He's behind you!" or "Over there!" It was just a riot.
It really was just a bit of silliness. But what great fun! Jaxon was captivated! And the rest of us got a good laugh. So if you're ever in London at Christmas time, get yourself to a Christmas Panto!
christmas pantomime Web definitions
This is what we see and hear when we get out of the tube! Experience it with us!
Listen for the bells & for a quiet echo of Dallin practicing his school Christmas songs.
Our sign here says, "GO HOME elder HANDSOME!" I know, it doesn't sound too friendly, but it's what the kids came up with. They said, we should make him a sign, like that says Welcome Home. But since he's leaving, let's just say, GO HOME!. So, it is what it is.
We've had a great time getting to know Elder Hansen. He was there at the church the day Jason showed up that first week in July, and we have had he and Elder Mecham over often. It's been our little way of having friends, while we really didn't HAVE any English friends. And it's easy to win over these young men hearts, all we gotta do is feed them!
Elder Hansen is leaving the area this evening, and flying back home to Southern California on Wednesday or Thursday.
This is all of us! Even our crazy Jaxon who DID NOT want to take a picture. Can you tell?
Dallin will really miss Elder Handsome, as he calls him. They have shared a special little bond. When the Elders left Dallin was in tears. I think he's been the closest thing to a friend that Dallin has had since we've been here.
Elder Hansen claims to have never eaten avocados in his life. Can you imagine that? Hard to believe, isn't it. So, we made him some fresh guacamole, and made him try it before he went home. So the California boy can say he had his first avocado while serving a mission in England. As if that makes ANY sense.
After our little Chipotle Wanna Be Feast, we settle down for a spiritual thought. Yes, this is us settling down. We sure have some work to do, don't we.
The family assumes their position on the couch, while the Elder's enjoyed their places on the chairs. Elder Mecham sat at the one with the ottoman and proceeded to explain to us that we should fan him and this should be a tradition, he should sit there with his feet up every time he comes over.
Still settling down....
And finally, this is Jaxon. He's actually happy for his picture to be taken now! Ya gotta love that kid!