Merry Christmas to everyone from me!
I was tempted to call the this post Merry Miss-mas, since it is the first Christmas that I have ever spent away from home and I miss my family and friends back home very much. However, I would have clearly been taking the commercialized and consumeristic route of the Holiday by taking the “Christ” out of Christmas.
When I step back and think about it, keeping Christ in Christmas actually makes spending Christmas away from home an easier proposition. It helps remind you of what the focal point of the Holiday actually is: Christ’s Birthday. As much as I love spending time with my family, especially over Christmas, the focus of the celebrations should always be on God’s gift of His Son, in the person of Jesus. I realized that in praising the Infant-Lord at His birth and by openly receiving the Grace’s that He pours upon us on His birthday, I am in closer unity with my friends and family at home than I ever could be in their physical presence.
Now, missing my birthday (on the 24th) at home is another matter altogether! 😉 Think of all the fawning and pampering I missed; breakfast in bed, meals, foot massages, and fresh cookies on demand.
Here is proof of the Christmas Chaos that I missed back home this year!
In reality, however, I was treated to a wonderful birthday and Christmas double over here in England…or as my little cousin said, I had a very Mappy Birthmas! The relatives I am living with, the Inglehearn’s, not only allowed me to stick around through the holidays, but have treated me beyond generously in the process. Not only did I get a special Birthday Cake and some wonderfully tasty meals, but I was also showered with many a Manchester United gift – despite their less than impartial feelings toward the Red Devils. Their generosity towards me over Christmas, and since I have been here, is a great example of what the season of Christmas is really about.
Just because Jesus’ birthday is the reason for the season, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to celebrate it in the same way. So, here are just a few things I’ve learned about Christmas in England – as opposed to back home in VA.
- Void of a Thanksgiving, some of the Brits seem to save their big turkey dinner of the year for Christmas. No complaints here!
- Mulled Wine – a spiced up and warmed version of red wine.
- Mince pies are everywhere – they are essentially little pies with raisins and some other things in them.
- Christmas crackers – those tube-like things that you pull apart at the Christmas table and they go “Pop” and there is a paper crown and a little gift inside – never used them until this year.
- Rain – oh wait that’s not just Christmas.
- Boxing Day – see below!
MY FIRST BOXING DAY!
Boxing day in the U.K. is the day after Christmas (the 26th) and contrary to what you might think – i did – it has nothing to do with Boxing. Seeing as that was clearly not the case, I asked what Boxing Day was all about. The general consensus was that it had to do with the poor and giving them “boxes” of things they need…like food, I imagine. So, essentially, they are celebrating St. Stephen’s feastday, which is also the 26th, by doing something that Good King Wenceslas was known for doing…on the feast of Stephen (ring a bell?) – essentially, giving to the poor. Why they don’t just call it St. Stephan’s day I do not know.
For the football enthusiast, Boxing day is glorious. Nearly every semi-pro/pro team plays on Boxing day and most people are off of work, so the grounds are well attended on the day. On top of that, everyone is starting to get a little bit of cabin fever from the holidays and is more than willing to get out of the house for a few hours.
There was a possibility that I would be making my Guiseley debut and my Boxing Day debut on the same day, but that was not to be the case. We played local rivals Bradford Park Avenue on a very wet afternoon. I was disappointed not to dress for the game, but not surprised as I didn’t imagine playing my first game in an important local derby. Especially since the manager has never seen me in a proper game. My time will come if I keep my head down and continue to work hard.
We ended up winning the game 1-0 from a first half strike. It was not a pretty game and the visitors had much of the ball and the better chances. Their failure to capitalize on chances and our strong defensive performance, particularly from our keeper who earned man-of-the-match honors, saw us leaving with all three points in the bag. As the saying goes, good teams find a way to win even when they are not playing well.
Next game is home again on Saturday 3:00 (10 in VA) at Nethermoor Park vs. Colwyn Bay, a team traveling from Wales. New Years Day will see us make the short trip across Bradford to play Bradford Park Avenue again at their home ground Horsfall Stadium. That is all dependent on the weather of course, which hasn’t been particularly kind to us the last few weeks, months, decades, centuries, millenniums – at least that’s what I hear.
I hope to be making my first appearance soon and will be sure to tell you all about it when it happens. Who knows, maybe I will score with my head first?
Merry Christmas to you all and have a Happy New Year!
Joy and Peace this Holiday season,