Now, my friends, it is time for the most anticipated post from Benjamin about his Merry Christmas in the United Kingdom. My location this Christmas means that, unlike my chums Thom and Jonny, I will have never spent a Christmas away from home and family so far. Don’t get me wrong, I am not rubbing it in – I am simply stating fact. This fact also means that my post will probably be less exciting than those of my two gap year pals, as home is home, and no one ever had any adventures at home [to imply a key principle from 'The Hobbit']. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my documentation of my homely, comfortable and enjoyable Christmas.
The Build Up
Because I have been in England only for this season, I have experienced this Christmas in isolation and out of context – so it really felt very Christmassy. The first couple of weeks (the build up to Christmas) was full of shopping and outings. For the majority of these trips I was on my own, as the academic year had not yet finished, and all were at work. I decided to make a Christmas list from items I spotted on my trips. Behold, an example:
I thought my dad liked pens and golf enough equally to appreciate this gift. He actually happens to be present as I write this post, and he has something to say about it:
“If nothing else, by sticking my unique pens into a piece of paper, I can make 18 holes each day!” – Charles Hammond
He also demonstrated his golfing skills on a bauble for me:
Anyway – moving on from that… As my list expanded, so did the anticipation of Christmas. There were plenty of occasions and celebrations that told me so. I particularly enjoyed the carols services that I attended. One of them was at my old school – The Kings School. It was followed by mulled wine and minced pies at the old factory by the school. The other was at the pub near my church – Ealing Park Tavern. Every year, we all sing carols there and receive a free round of drinks and chips. It was quite the merry occasion, and I enjoyed it very much.
After this, I participated in a game of basketball in a park across the street with the youths from my church. This was not a good idea, as the ground was slippery with dew and frost and I fell over three times and hurt my bottom. :(
However, all was well, as it was soon comforted by the soft cushions on my sofa as I sat down to enjoy the Sunday evening. Later that same evening, I sat down to some business that I would like to acknowledge on here. A few young girls in my church had decided that they were going to collect some money for the poor. They were evidently very determined, as they had managed to raise quite a bit! They then told me that they wanted to give it to me. At first, I wondered which aspect of my lifestyle led them to believe that I was… well… not ‘well-off’. But all made sense when they explained that they wanted to give it to the children’s centre back in Zimpeto. They wanted me to get some things for the boys in the dormitory. And so – it seemed – my shopping trips were not yet over. I have bought a few things with that good-hearted donation. One thing I know the boys will like is the new ‘Amazing Spiderman’ DVD – a superhero that they cannot get enough of. And so, my list increased furthermore, and Christmas was just around the corner.
At last came Christmas eve, and that too was a merry day. We spent it at the house of some good family friends – The Paradises. There was lots of festive food (doritoes, pringles, chicken – that sort of thing), and we played a game of hide and seek, as we often do with the Paradises. I hid in the my favourite hiding spot in their house – up in the attic and in the rafters. In the roof basically. The night went on very quickly, and we made on our way home just before the clocks struck 12. It was now Christmas day. Like Tom mentioned in his post, ‘sleeping’ and ‘Christmas eve’ often went together like Simon Cowell and empathy. However, it seems that Simon must have witnessed a puppy being beaten (that will make any man cry) because I slept well that night, and I didn’t wake up until my sister put my stocking on my face.
It’s a boy! Unless I am gravely mistaken. Jesus was apparently born on this day. He probably wasn’t, but we celebrate it anyway. The day started with my sister making some tea for my parents, as they would not come downstairs to begin the worship of material things until they had had their tea (much to the annoyance of my sisters). But soon, the tea was made, and the ceremony began. I enjoyed many of my presents. I particularly loved the present my sister got me – a membership to the ‘Cloud Appreciation Society’.
My membership number is 31830 for those of you who may also be members. I know of at least one ;)
I also particularly enjoy my new Gameboy. It’s beautiful.
The day went on, and we enjoyed the Christmas television as a family alongside playing a game of scrabble with my sisters. I did quite well, but both my sisters scored higher than me. After a long time relaxing, the Christmas dinner was finally ready. Unfortunately, due to the Lariam and my loss of appetite, I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted, but I managed to eat a whole plate minus two potatoes. Christmas day really only begins to wind down after the Christmas dinner – and so, we all sat and allowed the day to continue in such a way that you can only do on Christmas day. I played on my gameboy while everyone else watched Downton Abbey. That, really, was all Christmas day contained. That’s the funny thing about days you enjoy – there isn’t much to tell.
And again, I quote the Hobbit:
“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a good deal of telling anyway.” – The Hobbit
So, I certainly do apologise if my post has not been very interesting, because I did enjoy my time here this Christmas, and that means, according to The Hobbit, that I don’t have much interesting to say. However, I am right now preparing to return back to Mozambique, and back to a place much different from my home which has seemed, so far, to produce far more interesting posts than any I have been able to muster here at home. I am looking forward to going back. I feel refreshed and a little more clear minded.
I hope that you all had a Merry Christmas. Now, if you will excuse me, I have 17 hours before my plane leaves, and I have not done a single thing to get ready for my trip. I will begin my preparations by deciding wether or not I should bring my teddy bear – Mr. Rumples – back with me. I didn’t take him at first because I did not want to loose him. But now I am having second thoughts. I would like him to experience my gap year with me. Anyway, that is another matter. Happy New Year friends. May 2013 bring you many good adventures and happy times.