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?

Thanksgiving

Food, friends, family, football. Thanksgiving is a time for coming together, pigging out and being thankful for life and love.

Growing up in England, we did not celebrate Thanksgiving. But now that I live in California I have had a small taste of the holiday. I am totally into being thankful for what we have. I look around at the selfishness of humabity sometimes and just wish that there was more gratefulness in everyday life. More grace. More care. More love.

For me, Thanksgiving feels almost like a pre-Christmas. A celebration with a huge meal. And the lack of gift-giving and focus on being thankful allows for a little less focus on the material and more on love (and food).

For some it’s all about the football. My husband is a big Dallas Cowboys fan, and apparently they play every Thanksgiving. The most valuable player in that game wins a giant turkey!

Some traditional Thanksgiving foods include sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. Brussel sprouts seem to be popular also. And pumpkin pie! I tried making a green bean casserole last year, but I’m not really sure what it is supposed to taste like. I didn’t think mine tasted so great! But it was edible. This year I am keeping it simple. Turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies and gravy. Apple pie and ice cream for dessert. There will only be two of us so no need for a huge feast. Though one day it would be nice to experience that full family feast Thanksgiving.

What do you like best about Thanksgiving? What is your favourite food? Do you have any traditions that you uphold on this holiday? Do you have Friendsgiving instead?

Pies

When I think of pie, hearty, meaty savory pies tend to come to my mind. My favourite kind of pie is chicken pie. And after that beef mince pie. My Dad loves pork pie. And pasties are a whole other category of pie that make my mouth water. The pasty does not really exist in America. Sure, they do have savory pies, such as the chicken pot pie, but they lack the distinct flavouring that British pies have.

Fall is here and it is almost Thanksgiving. The kind of pies that most commonly come to my mind here around this time of year are sweet potato pies, cherry pies and apple pies. There are so many kinds of dessert pies here. Boston cream pie sounds particularly delicious to me…. or chocolate cream pie… or banana cream pie… basically any kind of pie with cream. Yum! Of course, Britain has dessert pies too – my nana makes a mean apple pie. Then there is the mince (fruit) pie that melts in your mouth like a Christmas explosion around Christmas time.

There is something so comforting about a pie. Don’t you think? I certainly miss British pies. But it is nice to be able to try different things. Maybe I will even try making a pie this year for Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!

What’s your favourite kind of pie?

Halloween

I dressed as a witch for Halloween 2020

Halloween is a big deal in USA. Or it is for many people, at least. From decorations, to parties, to trick-or-treating – they just do it right here. Growing up in the UK, my family never celebrated Halloween. I remember carving a pumpkin once, and dressing up for school parties once in a while, but Halloween was never something that we looked forward to with huge excitement. That’s not to say that England doesn’t have trick-or-treating or fun Halloween events and parties, it’s just something we didn’t celebrate. And of course, every year we would wait to see if anyone would egg our house.

When I moved to California, I lived in a neighbourhood in Menlo Park. It is a nice, quiet community. At Halloween, the people really come together to make it a special time for kids and adults alike. Many people decorate, some quite extravagantly. It was so fun for me to walk around the neighbourhood and just enjoy the decorations for the whole month of October.

On Halloween, that neighbourhood is the place to be for trick-or-treating. People even come from other neighbourhoods because they know that it is a fun place to be. Streets are blocked off and families can enjoy the festivities. Some houses have outdoor movies with popcorn; others have hotdog stands; some have parties for adults; and the treats are not just candy – all kinds of prizes are given out to the kids. I love that the community is able to come together and have some fun at least once a year.

What is Halloween like for you? Do you enjoy dressing up? I for one, LOVE dressing up. Leave a comment…