Home for Christmas



Home for Christmas

Just over two and a half years ago we returned to England after nearly nine years in Arizona. One of the things that I really looked forward to was a proper English Christmas.

Christmas in the desert just isn’t the same. There’s something very wrong about seeing strings of lights wrapped around the trunks of palm trees or carefully draped over a cactus. It’s an odd thing to wake up on a cool December morning, see that silvery quality of light that tells you it’s winter, yet by midday you’re contemplating whacking the turkey on the barbecue rather than bunging it in the oven. It’s sad staring out of the window at a cloudless blue sky on Christmas Eve and knowing that the chances of a white Christmas are about the same as an M/M romance hitting the Sunday Times best-seller list.

We stuck to our British Christmas traditions as much as we could. I made sausage rolls and truffles on Christmas Eve, found a Christmas pudding and mincemeat in a supermarket, and cooked a turkey for Christmas dinner—sadly without chipolatas or a certain brand of stuffing. It just wasn’t the same, no matter how hard we tried to make it so. Heck, even the Christmas songs on the radio were different, no Slade, no Wizzard, no Jona Lewie.

To my delight, our first December in our village was marked by snow, lots of it. After years of only seeing snow on the peaks of the Pinal Mountains, it was a real treat to don the winter gear, stick my camera in my pocket and venture out into the cold. I’d forgotten about that silence that comes with snowfall—that special, expectant, magical silence. It set the scene for our first Christmas back home.

Our village has a lovely tradition. We have an award winning brass band and, hell, they are bloody good. Every Christmas Eve, they walk through the village collecting money and putting on impromptu little concerts. We bundled up and stood outside while the band played a handful of carols under the glow of the streetlight on the little green across the street. It was bitterly cold, our breath rose in clouds while we listened. After that, we went back inside and watched Christmassy things on TV while our little Charlie Brown Christmas tree twinkled with silvery lights in a corner of the living room.


And, yes, that Christmas Turkey, our village post office is also a very nice little shop. Last year I ordered our turkey and our vegetables and picked them up from the shop on Christmas Eve. No fighting the crazed hordes in the supermarket, no having to settle for a twenty-pound turkey because the smaller ones are gone. All very calm and perfect. It was a bloody good turkey too. This year we’re having something else but that shop has some damson gin which I reckon will make a very nice post-dinner tipple.

Anyway, that’s enough drivel from me. Here’s to a peaceful, happy Holiday season and to an even more peaceful New Year for us all.


S A Meade writes M/M romance when she’s not engrossed in her day job. She is partial to sloe gin, good food and has been known to cook a decent meal now and then. She lives with her husband, son and two very needy cats, in a cottage somewhere in deepest Wiltshire.


Advent Calendar Giveaway!

I’m giving away a copy of ‘Lord of Endersley’, my M/M historical as my advent calendar gift. Just leave a comment about your favourite Christmas treat. I’m always on the look-out for Christmas eats!

The BONUS BUMPER PRIZE QUESTION (don’t answer this – just save them up for Christmas Eve.)

11. Solve these fiendish cryptic festive clues:

a. Ernie, Ernie and Ernie

b. small planetary body belonging to a London mental institution

c. Us: Harold, William, Ethelred



26 Responses

  1. Ah, that’s lovely. Yes,I can imagine fairy lights around a cactus would look a bit……odd. And you describe the silence of a snowy world so perfectly.The only good thing about Christmas abroad would be absolutely NO Slade or Wizard. Bliss!

    Thank you for sharing. 😀

  2. I admit to liking a bit of Slade and Wizard!
    Sloe Gin is my favourite too! Not too many bushes here and poor crop so making cranberry vodka this year!

  3. We’re currently in Texas and have had an early Christmas dinner with son and wife. Sigh – it’s impossible to do the proper sausages wrapped in bacon though we did try. But American sausages are so different. Luckily we’re back in the UK for the real thing on Christmas day!
    Merry Christmas to you too!

  4. I always used to drink Slow Gin at Christmas time but you know I hardly ever saw it during the rest of the year.

  5. Your holiday sounds so very nice…. I live in an area where we do have cold winters—or at least the potential for them. But this year December has mostly been very warm, and looking at the forecast it seems like there is little chance for a white Christmas. Which is too bad—because the snow really does help put me in a festive sort of frame of mind…

  6. I agree about Arizona Christmases. We live in IL and get snow and cold. That’s the only true way to enjoy the holiday.

  7. Ginger wine – warms the cockles (or your heart, and other bits)! We prefer it unadulterated, no rocks (so American!!) or whisky, just as it comes. Christmas in a bottle!

  8. How lovely for you and your family. I live in Maryland and the thought of palm trees and cacti seem foreign as well on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas.

  9. Always love Christmas cookies, but the homemade tamales family friends bring on Christmas Eve are my favorites!

  10. A brass band playing carols outside – what could be better!

  11. Cute little cottage there, really enjoyed reading this. 🙂

  12. guess whatever type of Christmas you enjoyed as a child becomes your ‘proper’ Christmas – but I have to admit that yours sounds about right to me. Frost and evergreens and church bells, too many mincepies, sherry at ten in the morning, untangling the cat from the xmas tree and, once, a kitten from inside the defrosting turkey, ‘pigs in blankets’, bubble and squeak, chestnut stuffing – yeah, that’s the stuff 🙂

  13. Village shops are fab for being able to order stuff, aren’t they? We got our Christmas tree from the village shop just last weekend – £15! Absolute bargain! (but then we do live in a forestry area so they probably got a batch off a local)

    Favourite Christmas treat? I’m going to sound daft, but just being able to indulge in a day of food & drink is what I look forward to these days – oh, and duck-in-pancakes (like Chinese crispy fried duck, but made with Christmas duck leftovers!) on Boxing Day 🙂

  14. Mmm, I love lots of Christmas food – all the sweet, rich things I doubt would be quite as enticing in hot weather!

    Funnily enough, when I was a (very fussy) child I didn’t like mince pies or Christmas cake, so my poor, put-upon mum used to make alternatives. These days I find chocolate Yule logs a bit too sweet, but I still love her cherry buttons, which are something like this recipe: http://www.alleasyrecipes.com/recipes/5/2/cherry_buttons.asp

    Oh, and another cherry thing – soak glace cherries in cherry brandy for a good long while, then cover with dark chocolate. Yum! 🙂

  15. I’m glad that you were able to return to England and are enjoying the snowy Holidays. My favorite Christmas treat would be egg nog with some nutmeg sprinkled on top.

  16. Lack of mince pies would finish me…

  17. I love village Christmases, especially carols around the village green.

  18. One of my favorite treats is the chocolate fudge my husband makes, yum!

  19. Christmas in Southern California made me heartsick. So very wrong! My favorite treats? Hot chocolate and gingerbread, neither of which is as tasty when the temperature is 80 degrees.

  20. Thank you for sharing those nice memories! One of my favorite treats around Christmas is Peppermint Bark. Happy Holidays!

  21. Thank you all for your lovely replies! It’s very cold here this morning and our little garden is carpeted with heavy frost. This year, I’ve put seed in the bird feeder and we’ve had a robin come by several times a day. He makes it seem even more Christmassy, with his brilliant red breast.
    I love hearing about everyone’s Christmas treats. And I may add some to our list. I’m going to look for a recipe for peppermint bark for starters!
    And yes, one good thing about Christmas in Arizona, tamales. My parents’ next door neighbours always make loads of tamales for the holidays and they are very, very tasty.
    Merry Christmas to all of you.

  22. I loved reading about your English Christmas. Wish we had some of those traditions here in the US especially going outside to hear the band. One tradition we have is we get new pajamas on Christmas Eve so that we’re not wearing our ratty jammies on Christmas morning.

  23. When I was eight and learned my family would be moving to Arizona from Michigan, my teacher gave me a postcard of a saguaro cactus with ornaments and lights. “That’s what they have in Arizona,” she said.

    I was horrified. I did not want to go. Alas, there was no choice. The good news is that you can indeed get an evergreen or fir Christmas tree in southern Arizona. The bad news is that many a Christmas it was warm and sunny, unlike the “real” Christmases of my early childhood.

    Fast forward to adulthood, where most of our Christmases have been in Massachusetts or New York, always chilly, often with snow. I can count on seeing my breath when we go to cut our own tree, on wanting a fire and cocoa when we get home, and on the holiday feeling as it should–for me.

    But all our expectations of what the holiday ought to be are the products of our own past, so to everyone, I hope you have the holiday you dream of.

  24. I’ve never lived outside New England in my life, so the winter holidays have always had the proper winter cold! Glad you’ve got your own holiday back.

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