Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night before Christmas

..when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse". This line pretty much sums up the Christmas Eves of my childhood. In our house we had a collection of Christmas books including The Laughing Snowman, Christmas in Puddle Lane and Where’s Rudolph?, an excellent book in which an elf’s hat, a car light and Christmas decorations are mistaken for Rudolph’s nose, but ‘Twas the Night before Christmas was easily our favourite. Snuggled under duvets and fidgety with excitement my mother would read the book in her very best story telling voice and as soon as she had read the opening line I knew Christmas was upon us. As the years have gone by, the reading of bed time stories has inevitably been left along the wayside and has been replaced instead by the annual visit to the Creigiau Inn. Not, in fact, my nearest pub but the one with the highest number of friends frequenting it. It’s the one night of the year where you are pretty much guaranteed to see people you haven’t seen for the past twelve months, there’s always someone to buy a drink for and always someone to buy you one back.

This year however, I have had to forsake the traditional visit to the pub, after all it’s a bit tricky to nip out for a Christmas drink when the pub in question is several thousand miles away. Still, there are some elements of my traditional Christmas that have survived the move to Uganda. Firstly, the advent candle. There is only one other person I know whose family also burns an advent candle throughout December. I mean other people must, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to buy them, but where these people are, I don’t know. I have the feeling that my ma does quite a considerable bit of hunting each year for it but she always comes up with the goods.

I’ve also ensured that we have a tree in the house and that it has been appropriately decorated, even if this has meant making a (slightly sinister) angel out of a water bottle, black bags, kitenge (African cloth) and a bit of shiny wrapping paper, to grace the top of our tree. I’ve made some Christmas crackers too that I intend to take to Christmas lunch with me. Unfortunately they don’t bang as I didn’t think about it early enough to get cracker snaps off the internet, but they’re still Blue Peter worthy. There will also be the traditional watching (and subsequent crying) of The Snowman. Ever since I can remember I have watched The Snowman. In years gone by it used to be played alongside Grandpa on Channel 4. However after rather a lot of research I have discovered that whilst you can get the Grandpa soundtrack it has never been released on DVD, probably because it was too darn sad. It has now been replaced by the far more festive, and upbeat, The Bear, a pity in my opinion.

Despite a lot of badgering I have also not allowed present opening to commence until December 25th. This may sound obvious but apparently not. People here sound genuinely amazed that I was given presents in September to bring with me to open for Christmas, why not just open them right away? I certainly won’t be telling the boyfriend that our village’s former reverend used to say that Christmas began at 6pm Christmas eve or he’ll be tearing open that paper before I can finish my sentence.

As for tomorrow I will miss the bacon sandwiches and bucks fizz and playing the role of ‘elf’ i.e scrabbling under the tree and getting stabbed by pine needles in attempts to fetch the presents out from underneath it. Not to mention my mother’s roast dinner, particularly the roast potatoes and the Yorkshire puddings, and of course the company of my family. However I am really rather excited for my first Ugandan Christmas. I can't wait to see how tomorrow unfolds, me bringing a little touch of Wales to proceedings and learning all about how they do things here. So to all of you, wherever you may be celebrating the festive season, "Merry Christmas".


  1. I miss the childhood Christmas traditions...

    I'm glad you were able to take a few traditions along with you. Fun're a good writer!


  2. Have a happy, exciting Ugandan holidays, dear Ali!
    Greets from Kampala!

  3. Thank you for your kind words Whitney, I'm glad that you're enjoying the blog.

    Happy holidays to you too Katja, greetings from Kabale! x