you know how i know it's christmas? it's advert season. i don't even own a tv, pay a tv licence or watch many actual tv shows, and yet i'm somehow still wise to the latest debate to have split the internet: am i team #mogthecat or team #manonthemoon? (for the record, and despite everything you know about me, i am very much team kitteh. he so funny!) even without a tv to my name, i still got suckered into the debate and forced to watch the many adverts regardless, just so i could have my say. and why? these major chains and department stores hardly need the extra promotion at christmas, do they? surely their customers know they're still open at christmas - emotional, pull at the heart-strings tv advert or not?
i suppose though, the thing these adverts do remind us of is how different everyone's christmases really are. from one family to the next, you can guarantee varying degrees of tradition and festivity, and i guess its the personal, family quirks that make spending time with your family at christmas all that more special. right? or for ex-pats like me, with no family close by, that little bit harder to deal with.
thankfully though, i am surrounded by other ex-pat friends, and at christmas we come together to share our traditions, and ensure that our holidays are no less full of festive fun than if we were still home with our families. how? for a start, we get the hell out of london so that we can ~actually spend the holidays with each other. in london, the city shuts down. no tube or trains run on christmas day, meaning any day-time travel is out of the question. as we all live in different corners of the city, we tend to have to either stay at someone's place on xmas eve through to boxing day before we can travel again. fine, really, except...it can make for a crowded house.
for the last few christmases though, we've hired a cottage somewhere cold and isolated, hired a car, filled the fridge with seasonal groceries (and booze) and just celebrated at our own pace. we've been lucky to have christmas trees up in our previous cottages meaning our christmas days were all ready for us. this year, we're travelling up to edinburgh to spend the holiday with bex in her flat up north, so it will absolutely feel like home for us once more. as we're all kiwi/australian ex-pats, we sort of all share the same antipodean traditions: hot weather foods. this will be our fifth christmas in the uk, and so i suppose we're still sort of working out our winter traditions.
so far, there been no snow - despite what all popular christmas films would have us believe. new traditions for us have been things like the addition of baileys to all the hot drinks, and cooking all the cider in a sauce pan. hot drinks for christmas is just ~not what we're used to, so to compensate for that, we ~always try to get our hands on some kiwi fizz; lindauer is a favourite of ours, and nothing tastes more like christmas to us that a cold glass of bubbles and some delicious fresh berries. mixing our antipodean food traditions with our new english ones is always a little trial and error (i'd never cooked a roast beef before last year, and we totally ruined it but made up for it with fresh pavlova and incredible cheese platters), but there's no-one i'd rather be trialling and failing with at this time of year. your friends are the family you choose, and it's rad to be able to make our own traditions work for us while still trying to retain some of the important ones from our childhoods.
littlewoods' christmas advert this year, thankfully, is one that celebrates the little things that make our christmases ~ours. the advert even helps support their christmas range, unlike many of the others out there, and really - isn't that what you should be advertising at this time of year? the little things people do to make their christmas theirs?
i'd love to hear about some of your own personal traditions, as would littlewoods, so leave your traditions for me below, and get involved with the conversation on twitter too: #maketheirchristmas