Christmas outside the box!

Over the years myself and my family have got up to some pretty strange things around Christmas.  We hardly ever have turkey (goose, chicken, beef, lamb, pork, duck and even baked potatoes have graced the Byrne dinner table on the 25th Dec over the years!)  We never have a Christmas tree, instead opting for a space-saving tree branch that is then adorned with various edible and non-edible decorations.  We opened most of our presents on Christmas Eve having enjoyed a Christmas Eve walk and take-away, we (rather cheesily and sadly) sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and ate some birthday cake, we’ve even been known to play tennis on Christmas Day (far more entertaining than the Queen’s speech!).

But even by the odd standards of a Byrne family Christmas, this year was even more different … I spent Christmas Day (and Christmas Eve and Boxing Day) with absolutely no-one that I was remotely closely related to!  We had a special Christmas Day meeting at The Plant and enjoyed a Christmas dinner together afterwards (for which I was responsible for the turkey and gravy!)  And I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed it … Part of the thinking behind staying in Manchester was that loads of international students can’t go home for Christmas – others want to experience celebrating an authentic English Christmas … Many can end up being quite lonely on Christmas Day, so The Plant put on a special meeting aimed at international students in which they got to hear what Christmas is all about – Exactly why we celebrate the coming to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ and then join us for Christmas lunch to see how we celebrate!  I found that it really helped me being around in Manchester on my own for the few days either side of the day itself to get a sense of what it must be like … I tell you – after 2 days of very minimal human contact, I was absolutely craving conversation and being sociable!

And because I wasn’t with family, there was no big exchange of presents – we all got our crackers and some chocs, but the main (and best) part of the day was just spending it with people, getting to know them and having some fun.  There was so much to talk about that worrying about what we’re missing on TV never entered our heads.  And most of all it was just so exciting to be able to talk to some very interested international students about what Christmas means, and why Jesus coming to live on earth is so significant.

I’m now going to go and spend a few days with the folks to satisfy that insatiable appetite parents have to want to see their grown up offspring!  Sorry, that makes it sound like a chore – which it really isn’t!  My parents are wonderful and have been very understanding about me not being with them for Christmas – especially as I don’t even have the excuse of being newly married and wanting to avoid the whole “Whose-parents-do-we-spend-our-first-Christmas-as-a-couple-with” problem … (Just in case that confused you at all – I am NOT married, I am NOT engaged, I am NOT even romantically involved with anyone – the single life just goes on and on!)  I’m looking forward to some quality time, family games, proper cooking, playing my folks’ beautiful piano and seeing the numerous relatives!

Hope you all had Merry Christmases and best wishes for 2006 …

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