The Holiday

The Holiday movie, starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, really encapsulates the differences between Californian and British Christmas. And it humorously highlights the querks that come with living in England vs California.

First of all, I love this movie. It is one of my favourite Christmas films. It has a wonderful cast and is totally feel good. I love the American vs British accents. I love the exchange of houses, particularly how excited Iris is to see how huge and extravagant Amanda’s house is vs how underwhelming and tiny Iris’s house is, although very cute and homey. And I adore Graham’s children. They are too adorable. I also like how they address the agony that love can be. And I truly am a sucker for a good romance story with a happy ending.

Me in Hayward, CA December 2020

Living in California, I find that Christmastime does not feel quite as Christmassy as it did in England. Although, I have been enjoying the glorious weather, there is something exciting about a chilly snowfall in the lead up to the holidays. The cold invites you to sit by the fire with a warm blanket and hot chocolate. Whereas, the sun just begs you to come outside and enjoy basking in its warmth. Both are lovely experiences, but the former is definitely more Christmassy. I also love wearing my winter jumpers (sweaters), and this year I really haven’t had much opportunity for that here in Cali.

Let’s talk about Iris’s cottage in Surrey and Amanda’s house in LA. Iris’s cottage is so cute and quaint. But it could be more accessible – the tiny lane is quintessentially country but not easy to navigate – and the cottage seems to have no central heating, rather a firplace… not to mention the lack of shower. Although the bathtub does look fun. Conversely, Amanda’s house is huge… a typical Californian house in an affluent neighbourhood. Amazing. I would be exactly like Iris if I was visiting LA for the first time and got to stay there. Neither house is decorated for Christmas in the movie, but somehow the cottage wins in being more Christmassy since it looks like it could be on a Christmas card.

Now comes the romance. I love the international alliances made in this movie between the love interests. Perhaps the exotic nature of the other makes the person more appealing. Or perhaps it is exciting that the person is on vacation and will leave soon. Or perhaps they were just lucky enough to find the right person due to a spontaneous decision made by two women who needed a break.

When hope is lost, love can still be found. And when you are not looking, that’s when it will appear. That’s what I glean from this movie… but then, it is just a movie.

What do you like about this movie?

Accents

Have you ever thought about your accent before?

I grew up in the north of England. Northerners are known for having a strong accent. (Think Ser Davos Seaworth from Game of Thrones). And there are so many colloquialisms that it is almost another language altogether. YouTube the Geordie accent if you have no clue what I’m talking about.

Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northern England

Now, despite growing up surrounded by this gritty, hearty accent, my own accent was always much softer. From a young age, I was always aware of the way I was speaking. I wanted to talk properly. Perhaps this is because of my love of the language, or of structure. Perhaps it was because I read a lot and was also read to often from a very early age. I’m not sure why, but I never developed a strong Northern accent.

My accent diluted further when I went to live in York for University. I spoke too fast and had to learn to slow down so that people could understand me. But it was when I moved to California that I really started to notice my accent.

York, UK 🇬🇧

The people here would comment on my accent when I met them. “I love your accent!” they would say. And sometimes I would get, “Are you from Australia?”. Have you seen ‘Love Actually’? One of the guys goes to America to meet girls because he thinks he has a “cute British accent”. Well, that’s what it felt like – I had the “cute British accent” and I kind of loved how much people loved it.

But the more time I have spent here, the more I have adapted my accent. I went from saying tom-AR-toe to saying to-MAY-toe. And I cringe inside every time it comes out of my mouth, but it does make life a little bit easier when you don’t have to repeat yourself twenty times. Adapting seemed like a small price to pay to live in this amazing place. After all, I have always been a bit of a chameleon.

Every year for our holidays (vacation), we would go to Scotland as a kid. And I LOVED the accent of the people there. I would mimic it as much as possible. I have always had a fascination with interesting accents and tried to mimic them for fun. Scottish is an example of an accent that I think stays with a person more easily. I doubt that many people from Scotland lose their accent when they move to another place. But perhaps I am wrong about that? Perhaps it depends on the person rather than the accent. I know people from the UK who have lived in other places with strong accents, South Africa for instance, and their British accent remained as strong as ever. Yet, my sister went to live in South Africa for a year and came back with the accent (although she went back to speaking in her regular Gerodie accent after a sort while when she moved home).

Scottish Highland Cow

So, despite adapting my accent to be understood more easily, there are some things that have stuck with me. I still say ban-ar-na, for example; and c-ar-n’t; and bin rather than garbage can etc. So now I have a hybrid accent and I’m not sure how much I like it. People don’t hear right away that I have a British accent when I speak now and I miss the idea of having that “cute British accent” – I felt sexy and exotic with it. But I also don’t mind my hybrid accent. I am part of both worlds. I am both British and American. And my accent reflects that.

Do you adapt to where you are? Or do you have no choice but to keep the accent you grew up with? Leave a comment 🙂