I kind of expected to be a bit homesick when it got close to Christmas as it is such a family time for us, very like Thanksgiving in the US in the that respect. I didn’t expect it to start as soon as we put the tree up!
We were kind of caught up in the excitement around us and basically as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers were eaten, our neighbours started putting the Christmas lights up. The kids were begging us to put ours up too so we relented and agreed to do it on December 1st this year, about two weeks earlier than usual.
However, when I looked through our box of Christmas decorations which we had shipped over from the UK, I quickly realised something was very wrong. None of our decorations for the tree were there. That might not sound that disastrous but I’m not the sort of person who has a perfect tree with matching decorations. I appreciate the beauty in those trees but for me, the tree decorations have always been about the memories attached to them and there are very few that match. We have one that my best friend (and bridesmaid) gave us the year we got married; some that my daughter made when she was only 1 or 2; some that we bought on holiday, etc. Basically they all hold sentimental value and the fact that they were missing pretty much reduced me to tears.
We think (i.e. hope) that they have somehow ended up going into storage with other things instead of being shipped to the US. They definitely weren’t left behind in the house so we can really only keep our fingers crossed that they are in one of the many boxes we will open up in 3 years when we go back to the UK…
Losing the decorations was enough to make me pretty homesick in itself, but then I discovered that some of the staple parts of a UK/Scottish Christmas are also pretty tricky to come by in the US. For example, basically every shop in the UK will be selling Christmas crackers and they are a ‘must have’ for dinner on Christmas Day. I found them elusive here though and it took me around two weeks of looking in different shops and asking various friends to track them down.
The thing that really got me though was the lack of mince pies! Now, all of my UK followers will be saying, ‘But mince pies are surely everywhere? We start selling them in September!’ and my US followers will be saying, ‘What are mincepies? Like meat?’. Well, no, not meat. They are small, individual, fruit pies filled with various fruits and spices and are usually served with a cup of tea. They’re just not a thing here and for some reason it really got to me!
It was as if all of things that I associate with Christmas just weren’t available here and I felt really homesick.
The best I could do was to find a (British) recipe for mince pies and I made my own after finding a (very expensive) jar of mincemeat on a shelf in a supermarket. Thankfully they turned out well and they even got positive reviews from my hubby’s work colleagues. Maybe I just need to work on converting more Americans to the joys of mincepies and then they will be more readily available next year…
If you don’t want to miss out on the next update/blog from the Military Spouse New House, subscribe here.
I promise not to bombard you with emails!