One of the things we were most excited about coming to Oxford during the fall semester was getting to be in Europe during Christmas time, and it’s been wonderful. I have missed some of our traditions from home, but we’ve managed to carry on a few of them in Oxford.
Since the Brits don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations in the stores go up right after Halloween. While I might complain about that at home, it did bring a nice cheer to the city, especially as things got darker and colder.
The festivities really got started, though, after the Oxford City Lights in late November, where the city streets were full of lights and trees appeared all over the city. There were fun activities at all the museums — we made Christmas crackers at the Story Museum, a moon dial at the Museum of the History of Science and masquerade masks at the Natural History Museum. It was a great way to start the holidays!
Then as December approached, we headed to the Covered Market to pick up a little tree and a few decorations.
I made the girls’ favorite meal, and we listened to Christmas music and decorated the tree.
Once December 1 rolled around, we started our advent calendar tradition: each day the girls opened an activity or small gift to ring in the season. There was a new Christmas book to read together, a surprise girls trip to London, trips to get hot chocolate, Christmas crackers, a visit to a fun museum, a trip to the game cafe, a candlelight concert, and other fun surprises.
Of course, on our trip to London, Christmas was all about. Here’s a window at Selfridges.
We’ve also loved getting to celebrate Advent at our church. Each Sunday reminded us of the light in the darkness (particularly poignant living in a place that gets dark around 4:15). This Advent has been particularly meaningful for me as I have tried to embrace the waiting: loving our time abroad, but longing for home. The now and the not yet.
Molly also got asked to participate in the reading from Isaiah at St. Aldate’s Christmas service, which was such a sweet treat.
And now we’ve packed up and left Oxford to celebrate Christmas in Austria. We’re looking forward to Christmas markets and have some fun surprises planned along the way.
I think this Christmas will be one to remember.