Hello lovely family and friends
I am currently reading ‘The Allegory of Love’ by C. S. Lewis, in which he gives fascinating snapshots of different western cultural trends through the centuries. We can be so steeped in the culture of our own age, like a fish in the water it swims in, that we don’t even realise that there are different ways of thinking from those which prevail where we live. Unless, of course, you have foreign friends, emigrate, read fantasy/sci fi, or get married, in which case, Mr Spock’s phrase comes in very useful: “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.”
Every marriage is a cross cultural marriage even if you marry someone ‘the same’ as you from next door. Each family has ‘The Right Way to Do Things.’ Which is fine until we marry someone who has a different ‘Right Way to Do Things.’ Then brace yourself for the Clash of the Titans. Early on in our marriage we discovered this over, wait for it, icing the Christmas cake. There was Drama, there were Tears, over this vitally important matter.
We used to do some pre-marriage counselling (when we lived in Botswana), and one delightful young couple explained that they thought the pre-marriage course would enable them to sort out all their issues before they got married, after which, they would live happily ever after (Disney has a lot to answer for). They were crestfallen when we explained that we were just teaching them how to argue kindly. As Mark Gungor put it, learning “how to be married and not kill anybody.” Or, learning how to combine two cultures and not kill anybody.
On the creative front, I have been planning a small renovation to enable us to run an Air BnB from our downstairs. So much fun! I am buying furniture, new and second-hand, and planning décor, discussing windows, doors, kitchenettes etc. I do love it!
Confession time: I have neither made this year’s Christmas cake, nor decorated the tree!! Sadness. The teenagers keep asking, “Why haven’t we put the tree up yet?” They do this as they are walking out the door to their next event. It’s going to be this weekend, even if It’s only me and my Mum doing it…
Please will you write and tell me what your different Christmas traditions are? E.g. My Dutch friend makes, and gifts Christmas tree ornaments to her friends every year. My German friend bakes and ices multiple Christmas biscuits which she packages and gives to friends on Christmas Eve. She also decorates every single room in her house with ornaments and fir tree branches. It’s all rather gorgeous. I had very few traditions of any kind growing up, and I love hearing about them, and trying to incorporate some of them in our lives. Not that I’ll be baking biscuits this year, since I am currently struggling just to get dinner on the table, but hope springs eternal…
So, this week, may we make Christmas cake/ (lavender)biscuits / pickles / decorations / chocolates / gluhwein! May you write and tell me your Christmas traditions! And may we find joy in finding gifts (however small) for those we love!