I do not really subscribe to any cultural traditions, apart from the obvious traditions of a man brought up in a country whose religious fealty is Church of England. I am not religious, but I can understand the necessity of magic to a child and Christmas seems bound up with my parents finding twenty four hours where they hide their own distance from one another and from me and my siblings. The magic of still believing in Santa, and staying up until the early hours and peeking through the curtains, hoping against hope that the golden trail of reindeer is scratched across the night sky. The product of a Coca-Cola education. They were good days - days when the world seems quite small and relatively painless, and the news seems so savage as to be totally unbelievable.
Christmas with my parents is not something I wish to uphold. The last one was a drag - spending three hours on the floor of my grandparents bungalow for want of any chairs, and being forced to watch consecutive soap operas. I wanted some interrelation - chatting, a card game - even charades - some means by which a disconnected family could rediscover what family was. My wife is an American, and they are a different breed. I remember taking my end of year University exam, and then talking to her aunt and uncle about it. They were the first ones to actually phone up and ask me about it. My own family didn't do that until three days afterwards, and that's only because I popped in and told them.
Me and my wife recently indoctrinated our friends into Thanksgiving. The conversation was free flowing and the food, despite some initial hesitation (candied yams??? Are you serious???), was well received. The pumpkin pie went down a treat. We did not say grace, perhaps because it was the customary role of my wife's father and he has since passed away. Perhaps the pain is too near for her, but I think primarily we engaged with this holiday because it brought a little of America into my wife's life, and it was among friends who understood that and wished to make it seem as homely as it could be. I think that will be a tradition for us - for me because it represents something I haven't felt since I was a child, for my wife because it represents a country and a family which she thought she might lose and for our unborn children as well, because it will show them what a family could be.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
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