Jacopo and Christmas in England away from home

Moving abroad also has its downsides that are the other side of the coin of a beautiful life experience. I, Jacopo, experienced one of these last year, when I spent Christmas in England far from home.

Let’s start by saying that it wasn’t easy, it’s true, but I chose it, I don’t regret it and in this article you won’t read any complaints about it, it’s right however to give a blow to the circle and one to the barrel, talking about the pros and cons of living in another country. There is a lot to say about this topic and we will surely write more articles about it in the future, but in the meantime, since the most beautiful holiday of the year is approaching, I’ll tell you how I experienced my first Christmas away from home.

If you’ve read my introductory article or the story of how I moved out of Italy, you’ll know that in July 2020 I took a one-way flight to England. A couple of months later, Beatrice joined me as well.

During these months in Chichester, a city that has remained in my heart, I was really happy and had some great times. I won’t hide from you, however, that the homesickness was equally felt. Luckily, I had Beatrice less than an hour away by train, but in mid-December she had to go back to Italy and I stayed in England during the Christmas period.

Partly because of work, partly because of travel restrictions, I hadn’t been able to find a way to get away for a few days to spend the holidays with my family and friends, but I had to postpone it until the end of January.

This very period and in particular Christmas Day was the most difficult for me.

Luckily, in the house where I lived I found a wonderful family who welcomed me as if I were a son or brother. The owner of the house, Lisa, a really sweet woman, understanding my situation decided to invite me to eat with them on December 25 (then you will understand why I wrote “eat” instead of “lunch” or “dinner”).

Honestly, I felt a little reluctant at first, not wanting to feel like I was in the way.

But then, since my manager decided to give me Christmas off and Lisa kept insisting nicely, I decided to accept the invitation. I have to say, it was a really good choice.

English families feel this holiday very much, as much as Italian ones do. Super-decorated house, Christmas tree up to the ceiling, presents upon presents for everyone, even their little dog, Frankie.

So, after waking up pretty late because I had been working the night before, I dressed up and came downstairs ready to have a different Christmas than usual. The smell of Lisa’s roasted ham was already in the air and my stuffed pandoro made the day before was sitting in the fridge. The special feature? We didn’t sit down to eat until 4pm.

That’s right, that’s why I didn’t specify beforehand if it was lunch or dinner! Not that I was surprised, however, I knew that outside of Italy they aren’t used to having two meals like we are, and besides Lisa’s kids were out with their daddy greeting relatives.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to help Lisa in the kitchen and to make a couple of aperitifs (I had taken care of the wine!) and finally, around four in the afternoon, we started eating the appetizer. After that, while the roasted ham finished cooking, we moved into the living room for the gifts. I may have really felt like I was in over my head at that point, but they managed to put me at ease, especially after I realized that each of them had given me a small gift, including several chocolates!

Plus, I had Frankie to keep me company after he too had unwrapped his two gifts.

Then we went back to the kitchen to finish eating, I surprised them with my super-delicious stuffed pandoro and at the end I found myself with a full belly, three boxes of chocolates, a paper crown on my head and a bit tipsy (I had chosen the wine well) chatting with them for practically the whole evening.

In short, I had a really good day.

This is the little story of my Christmas in England away from everyone. A different Christmas, a difficult one at times, but thanks to a family of nice people and many video calls with family, friends and Beatrice, I was still able to include it among my good memories. Because that’s the great thing about moving abroad: being able to have memories, whether they’re good, bad or, as in this case, bittersweet. Not that I wouldn’t have preferred to spend Christmas at home, of course not.

However, in the end I came back in January and, between lunches, dinners and presents, it’s as if I had experienced a second Christmas season. The important thing, after all, is to make every day festive when you’re with the right people, no matter if you’re in Italy or elsewhere.

Anyway, I finally made it back in January and, between lunches, dinners and gifts, it’s like I experienced a second Christmas season. The important thing, after all, is to make every day festive when you’re with the right people, no matter if you’re in Italy or elsewhere.

Both Beatrice and I will be spending Christmas away again this year, and the homesickness is kicking in and will be felt more and more. We’ll be back home, though, and then it will still be Christmas, whatever time of year it is.

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