When people in the US wish you happy holidays, they generally mean, enjoy your time off. In the UK it is a far more literal term as it implies you are actually going somewhere to have a holiday. No one "vacations" at home, they just "stay" at home. My friend Gwynedd explained this to me when I tossed out an "Enjoy your holiday" as we left the village veg and fruit shop. The veg and fruit man was still standing dumbstruck in the doorway watching us waggle down the street with our little paper bags of earthy new potatoes and carrots. "He either thinks you know something he doesn't and he's taking a trip, or you're nuts." Looking back over my shoulder, I could see that he'd decided on the nuts interpretation which seemed appropriate for someone who sold them. Also note that I called the new potatoes earthy and not covered with dirt, as earth there is dirt to us and dirt there is dog shit to us.
Still, many Brits do take holidays during Christmas as most people have substantial time off from work and school and a week in sunny Majorca sounds pretty good when it's usually dark at home. There is also a curious national affinity for driving a couple of hundred miles to a place where it will still be dark so that you can pay a lot of money to have a holiday in someone else's holiday cottage and write cheerful entries about the rain and the fireplace in the guest comment book when you leave." What a lovely house in a beautiful location, we had a fantastic holiday. Kids are longing to come back - thanks for a great week"
This is one of the years when we decided to join them.
We’re very fond of visiting the UK right after Christmas. Airfares hit rock bottom, we’re often in time for Hogmanay or some other excellent New Year’s bash and there’s usually no snow. Well at least there’s a lot less snow than December generally offers New England.
The best part though is in knowing that no matter how work pushed we are in the lead up to the “holidays” nor how endless the tasks inherent in celebrating with an ever increasing number of family under- fives, we know that the real gift is when we clutch our passports and ditch them all.
Having returned only a few months earlier from our year away from everything, it seemed frivolous to even consider leaving again but it had been an eventful interlude and by the time we’d had our second blizzard, we were more than ready to cash in some air miles. Some nights I would ask Tom to “tell me the story” of our impending escape. I’d make him include every detail and start from the moment we got in the car to go to the airport. Usually we were both nodding off by the time he’d seamlessly seen us nestled in our plane seats balancing flutes of champagne, but it was a comforting sleep that followed.
Although Tom and I were neck and neck in ruining Christmas (usually one of the twins does that) it only made our impending departure that much sweeter. Tom stuffed too many mimosa oranges in the garbage disposal and stopped up the sink on Christmas morning and I broke the stove mid turkey. The next morning while the plumbers were taking apart the kitchen, one of the two year olds was pushed off the top of the couch by her older brother on my watch and had to make a VIP ER visit to have her on duty doctor uncle (one of the twins) play hero by relocating her arm.