Life in Vancouver

Christmas; Past, Present & Future

Christmas 2018 has been and gone, and we’re into a new year! 

Before Christmas, at a young adults lunch at church we were chatting about what we were all doing over the holiday – lots of people are not from the city so visit family back home, some are more local so spend time with families, some, are not from here but are sticking around – like us! During this conversation, someone asked Tom and I what our normal traditions are for Christmas, but we didn’t really have a definitive answer! The two Christmases we’ve had since being married have been very different from each other.

Christmas Past

For our first married Christmas we decided rather than making a decision of who’s parents we should go to, we invited everyone to us instead! We filled our small flat with two sets of parents, two sisters, a grandmother and us. It was cramped to say the least, with the sofas pushed down to the end of the lounge/diner, the kitchen table at the end of our dining table, and the real Christmas tree I insisted on having lavishly taking up a large corner, but it was a lot of fun being able to all celebrate together.

It had some likeness to Tom’s normal Christmas, with us still being in Southport – pub at noon, Christmas dinner, and seeing the extended family in the evening. Both of our families went to the pub, while my sister and I made the final preparations for lunch at home, then everyone came to our flat for Christmas dinner. Tom and I covered the food, which was nice, but a little chaotic given our kitchen is designed for a two bed flat, not a 9 person multi-course meal! But we powered through and did turkey and all the typical English trimmings, with poached pears and Christmas pudding to follow. Later in the evening we went to Tom’s parents to see the rest of his side of the family, eat some more food and play games.

The second year of our marriage, we went to my parents’ down south, which was a quiet countryside Christmas, with movies, walks, and a Christmas Eve Carols by Candlelight service at the local village church. I grew up in the country, so enjoyed the retreat into the back end of nowhere for a few days, but it was a very different experience of Christmas for my husband who has lived in a town all of his life. He did enjoy it, especially when it snowed on our last day so we got to enjoy a snowball fight.

With these two Christmases being so vastly different, we’ve not actually had the chance to begin a pattern of any real traditions between the two of us. Every year we attend two non-family Christmas dinners – one hosted by one of Tom’s friends, the other that my uni friends and I take in turns to host – these have become a staple in our festive season, but that’s really as far as our traditions go!

Christmas Present

Doing Christmas in another country was an excited but slightly daunting prospect. With no real traditions and being by ourselves there was a real possibility of Christmas being a bit of a sad occasion. However, I liked the idea of having Christmas just the two of us whilst the opportunity presented itself. I don’t think it’s something we’d ever choose to do when the option of spending Christmas with family was on the table. Christmas is a time to be around loved ones and spend it with people you don’t get to see all the time, so whenever we’re in England, we’ll always spend it with family. So I saw this as an opportunity to try out Christmas day just us two.

We found the smallest turkey in the shop, and decided that we’d do all the bits of Christmas dinner that we like, and not bother with the rest. So we had turkey, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes and carrots, brussel sprouts and pancetta, leeks in white sauce, yorkshire puds, bread sauce and gravy – at the last minute we remembered the stuffing I had bought from the Tesco section of the supermarket near church, so put that on and added it at the end. So there it is… Christmas without pigs in blankets!

We got up on Christmas morning, opened some presents, video called Tom’s family and spoke to his gran, opened more presents, had breakfast, put the turkey in, got showered and dressed after noon, watched a bit of Home Alone (we started it on Christmas Eve), put the rest of the dinner on, video called the rest of Tom’s family, video called my family, watched more Home Alone, ate way too much, went for a walk on the beach, got a take out coffee on our way home, watched more Home Alone, had Christmas pudding, then stage two of the day began!

We’d been invited to a friend’s parent’s house at 6pm – Tom had arranged it all, and in true man-plan style, the intricacies of the evening hadn’t been discussed. We got in our friend’s car at around 5.30pm, and found out that we were on our way to a full turkey dinner! We had just said before getting in the car that we hoped there wouldn’t be a sit down meal because we were both so stuffed. Uh-oh!

Thankfully, the meal, although a sit down deal, was self-service from the middle of the table, so we were able to take as much food as we wanted and not appear really rude with only half the food gone from our plates at the end! It was so much fun – there were two families present besides us, who’d known each other years, so there was lots of people, chatting, and laughter! Also a few yummy additions to the food – yams with pecans, and a fruit jelly to go as a side to the main. Apparently that one is a family thing rather than a Canada-wide one, but it went surprisingly well! 

Christmas Future

It’s definitely been a mixed Christmas season. A lot of December, it just didn’t feel like Christmas to me. Between missing out on hanging out with family and friends, and it just not being very cold, there was definitely something lacking in the festive spirits department! However, we’ve had a chance to begin some new traditions, purely because we had the time to put them in place, and there were some that we’ll definitely carry forward! 

I thought a fun way to summarise would be a 12 things of Christmas list, one for things I’ve missed about home, and one for things I’ve loved about being here! 

12 Things I Miss

12 Things I Love

Family & Friends

Video calling being so accessible

Uni Christmas

Seeing film locations in every day places e.g. Elf was filmed in a local department store

Christmas Lights plastered all over high streets, especially the trashy ones!

Not having to think about buying so many presents / not getting caught up in Christmas shopping rush

Quality Street/Roses/Miniature Heroes being everywhere you go and stuffing your face with them

Opportunity to make new traditions

My lovely Christmas tree and decorations

The huge houses with all the lights and blow up Santas etc

Singing carols


Winter Spiced Ribena/Hot Vimto

Lots of very well decorated shops, and cutesy decorations and wrapping paper and cards

Normal annual events – Christmas Celebration at church, visiting family, etc

We can both drink when we go out. It’s nice to know we can if we want to!

Mince Pies & Christmas cake

Sushi (I think sushi will appear on any list of things that are good about Vancouver!)

Christmas TV and movies (my Christmas DVDs!)

Theatre being a lot more affordable – we went to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Cold Wintery feeling

Being invited into people’s homes, and having people come into ours to celebrate Christmas together

Manchester Christmas Markets

Seeing snowy mountains pretty much every time you look north when you’re outside

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