Christmas Eve Traditions


Every Christmas Eve for the last few years, we’ve gotten together with our good friends, Travis and Aymee, who we’ve known since our Army days back before we had kids.  They have four kids of their own now too.  The ten of us have a big Italian feast and after diner, all the kids decorate sugar cookies (that Aymee and I made in advance). 

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Then we drive the decorated cookies over to the local firehouse and give them to the firefighters who are on duty that night to say thank you.  We have loved doing this, and I’m sad we’re missing it this year.

After delivering our cookies, our families go our separate ways to get the many munchkins in bed.

Our family tradition has been to let the kids then exchange their sibling gifts before they go to sleep on Christmas Eve.  It’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and one I’m glad we can keep no matter where we are.


Letting the kids give each other their gifts that night, away from the chaos and excitement that is Christmas morning, really changes the way they exchange their gifts.  Instead of being excited about getting something, they’re really most excited to give the gifts they’ve worked so hard on to their siblings and see their reactions.  The focus becomes giving, not getting, and it’s so much more fun that way.


Although crafting the gifts adds another whole layer of thought to the process, this year we just don’t have the time or, to be honest, the same amount of crafting tools or supplies because we left so much of that in storage.  So we’re going with store-bought gifts, but they’ll be thoughtful and loved just the same.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? We’re learning about so many new ones here in England and I can’t wait to try some of them and see if we find any we want to take home when we come back.

Happy Thanksgiving

cousins at Thanksgiving

We’re not in Boston for Thanksgiving for the first time in my kids’ whole lives.

It’s totally weird.

We miss the cousins, the whole family, the food, and the annual layover in NYC on the way up the East Coast.

This is the first holiday we’re really missing because of the move — there’s no equivalent in England, and the kids have a normal school day. 

But we didn’t want to be sad about the one real downside to living in England, so we’re making the most of it and instead of eating turkey and pie today, we’re actually flying to Edinburgh for the weekend!  We miss our friends and family at home, but we won’t let that be the overriding theme of the day. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Scotland!

Also, adventures from Thanksgiving’s past, and the Christmas Creep, which isn’t a problem in England where it’s Christmas season basically on November 1!


School Differences: Uniforms


The difference between the school the kids currently attend and the schools we left behind is huge, almost to the point of absurdity.  Although we came here knowing things would not be the same, I’m still constantly surprised by just how different the schools are.

The most obvious difference is that children here wear uniforms to school pretty much across the board, regardless of whether the school is public or private.  My kids are in a private school and their uniform is pretty formal, but even public schools here have dressy uniforms: dress pants, button down shirts, and sweaters or blazers.  No khakis and polo shirts–although I think even that is better than no uniform at all!

I love school uniforms.  Wearing uniforms completely takes the pressure off the kids to dress a certain way.  No one feels embarrassed because they don’t have the right brand of jeans or the coolest type of socks — which was an actual thing at the elementary school we were at in D.C.  Cool, very expensive socks.  No one dresses a certain way to fit in or judges people based on their clothes.  Uniforms level the playing field.

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