Christmas sort of started at the beginning of December, just after my mom left. We went to the candle-lit carol service at the Canterbury Cathedral, and Steph and I went back to her home in Yateley to put up the tree and decorate. I sort of sprawled my gift shopping--when my mom was here I got gifts for my brothers and my Dad, and she and I exchanged gifts on Hanukkah. When I went to Germany I brought Missy a scarf and Marco some chocolate, and while I was there I got the Haynes family a gold and crystal star ornament for their tree.
I returned from Frankfurt on the 22nd. Oli picked me up from Stansted, so we got to hang out a bit at his. The Haynes household is everything that Germany wasn't--warm, friendly, inviting, cozy. I was really glad to be back. Oli and I woke up the next morning and made impressively fluffy blueberry pancakes before going to Colchester and finishing our Christmas shopping. Then it was off to the Moore residence.
Steph and I spent Thursday and Friday wrapping gifts and helping around the house, and at night we went to the pub--that's what people do on Christmas Eve here, they go to the pub for some mulled cider. It was very Christmas-y, actually, being in a small pub with the entire town gathered. Very intimate and cheerful.
Steph's dad woke us up at 7 in the morning on Christmas Day. We could have smacked him but we quit complaining when we saw our stockings. I had been filled in on the details of the Moore Christmas tradition--Steph's brother Jonny, her, and I crawled into bed with Heather and David and we took turns handing out gifts. I missed my family, but I did not feel the least bit excluded--my stocking was stuffed with chocolates and ornaments, a piggy bank with a dinosaur on it, a daily hunk calendar, and the traditional apple, clementine, and pound coin (all for good luck). I also got a really cute purse and some perfume from Steph.
We spent the evening with family friends and had Christmas dinner, which was almost identical to Thanksgiving dinner--turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, a type of green bean casserole. I tried Christmas pudding, which is their equivalent to fruit cake....I'm told it's an acquired taste. David handed out his annual set of rude gifts--embarrassing trinkets from Anne Summers. I got a stress willy (you know, to squeeze when I'm anxious). Dave sat waiting with his camera so that he could be sure to catch my blush on film. When we got home I got on skype and saw my family sitting down for their dinner. It was good to talk to them the day of, but I was so spent.
The following Tuesday Jillian came. We went around London for a few days before coming back to Steph's to get ready for New Year's Eve. The group consisted of Jillian, Steph, Oli, me, and a few guys from uni. We went to an indie club in Kingston, just outside of London, called New Slang. Super grungy hipster dance party, it was fantastic. When 12 o'clock hit we were all together on the dance floor and we took turns giving each other new year's kisses. Highly successful NYE.