Monday, December 05, 2011

A Grown-up's Christmas in Wales

This is part of AndreaClaire's Christmas Memory Challenge series.

When I was 22, I spent my first Christmas away from home. I was scared and excited and sad. Christmas has always been a special time for me - it was about family and tradition and when I was 22, I was living in London and I was far away from my family and pretty much every tradition we had.

When I left home in the summer, I wasn't sure what my plans were for Christmas, but just a few weeks after arriving, I received a letter from my pen pal, inviting me to Christmas on her family's farm. Now, my pen pal, Julia, wasn't quite what most people expected from a pen pal. She wasn't 22. She was even 21 or 20 or 23 or 24. She was older than my parents. And she technically wasn't *MY* pen pal. When I was going to university, my Sparks wrote letters and sent crafts to her Rainbows. When she heard I was coming to London, she was thrilled she might have a chance to meet me. And spending Christmas with her wasn't as strange as it sounds - she has five kids and they are close in age to me.

Anyway, I loved Wales. It was cold and grey and windy and full of sheep, but it was so beautiful. We went to midnight mass in a cathedral that was colder inside than it was outside. Every room in Julia's house had its own kerosene heater. Her home was two converted barns joined by an addition that housed the bathroom and entrance way and maybe pantry and I'm not convinced it was insulated. I'm positive it wasn't heated. And it was cold. I didn't take a shower for the three days I was there because the thought of taking my clothes off and getting wet made me shiver uncontrollably.

I had a lovely time - Christmas was unlike any Christmas I'd ever experienced, but it was fun. I had a great time with Julia and her family and I felt so welcome...

And I just got a letter (and Christmas card) from Julia today and they just installed central heating! What a Christmas gift!

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