My First English Christmas 2019
location: Huddersfield, England, United Kingdom

This year, I left my family in Alabama, and had the pleasure of spending the holiday season with Joe and his family. It was very different from the Christmas I am used to, but it was just as magical in every way. I look forward to many more to come and incorporating our traditions together.

We started our holiday by flying into Germany. We spent almost every evening exploring new Christmas markets, drinking mulled wine, and Christmas shopping. Joe’s last day of work was December 20th, so early on the 21st we set off for England. We had a mini van rental, and it was loaded down. Leo and I hopped in the passenger seat with Joe in the driver’s, and we were England bound.

It took thirteen hours door to door, without having to stop overnight. In order to get Leo into the UK, we took the 30 minute EuroTunnel from Calais, France to Folkstone, England. It was pretty cool: we actually stayed in our vehicle and drove onto the train; when we drove off the train we were on the other side of the English Channel and in another country!

We spent our first few days shopping, decorating, cooking, and wrapping gifts. We were busy! On Christmas Eve, I made a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning and Boxing Day, which is a Christmas tradition my mom has always done. We also had Joe’s family over for Christmas Eve, which was a very nice, fun time. My mom has always made us lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner, so to stick with tradition I made individual lasagnas with a green salad and cheesy bread balls (we were having such a good time I even forgot to take any photos).

After dinner, we enjoyed some mulled wine and good conversation. Once the clean up had finished and everyone had said their goodbyes, it was time to settle in by the fire. Every Christmas Eve, my mom allows my sister and I to open one gift before bed. It always happens to be Christmas pajamas that we sleep in that night. This year, she included Joe and Leo in the tradition, giving us all matching Santa pajamas. It is such a meaningful tradition, and I am so touched to keep carrying it on.

Christmas Day was a whirlwind, jumping from place to place and going nonstop all day. We started at Joe’s, opening stockings and presents. We then went to Joe’s brother’s place for morning mimosas. We stayed there for a little while before heading to Joe’s cousin’s house. She and her husband have two small kids, so we wanted to drop off their gifts and see what Santa had brought them. Once we said goodbye there, we headed to a local pub in Joe’s village. We met up with his family here as well as some friends (going to a pub on Christmas Day was such a strange concept to me, but hey it was fun). After swinging by Joe’s to change and grab gifts, we head back to his brother’s. We had drinks and appetizers before sitting down to eat a delicious meal. After dinner, we exchanged gifts and then played some games before calling it a night.

Another new tradition for me was Boxing Day. Everyone gathers together to drink mulled wine and watch the horses take off for the fox hunt. It was quite a unique experience. Grabbed the photo below from a video, but it really was neat to watch.

As much as I missed being with my family this Christmas, it was nice being included in Joe’s family. I am also grateful for FaceTime, so I could see my family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Only 364 days until next year.

What are some fun Christmas traditions you have? What does your family do for Christmas? Comment below and share.

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