Monday, November 22, 2010

The Scotland Experience....Part 7

Christmas, Castle and Church…..Part 7

Christmas in Scotland is not as commercial as it is here. The commercials are not as frenzied and the gifts do not seem to be the focal point of Christmas as it has become here in America. Children get a FEW presents but they are not enormous ones! We attended the Family Christmas Service at 10:30 on Christmas morning at the church we had visited. It was a warm and lovely service and the pastor was personable…coming down and mingling in the congregation. He asked for a show of hands for anyone who had received a Christmas present. There was a surprisingly SMALL number of hands that were lifted! As per the brochure advertising the service that was posted on Union Street, the children were all invited to bring a gift. (Now all the children had raised their hands when asked about a gift ) The pastor would go to each child who wished to share and let them do a ‘show and tell.’ The gifts were simple but the children did not act disappointed in them. Children here at home seem to have such HIGH expectations due in part to the excessive commercial and media exposure of GETTING with little or NO thought given to GIVING! One boy had a ‘Torch’........that’s a flashlight to us and the novel part was it did not run on batteries but used the power of winding it up! Another fellow had a wooden box ‘puzzle’ which was interesting while a younger boy showed his toy fire truck that make a siren noise. I wish we could tone the commercial side of Christmas down here at home and I for one am going to try to do that next year. The only gifts I bought this year were for my grandkids and I chose simple ones like games and dominoes that we could play together.

A lot of the focus there is on the Christmas Meal. Many of the restaurants offered ‘Christmas Meals’ for a set price, dine in menus and offered the whole time we were in Scotland…not just on Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, most restaurants, bars, and pubs were closed on Christmas Day. There was much talk of the Christmas menu and a lot of shopping for the needed staples. We bought a Christmas Pudding but never got around to actually trying it!

We had a lovely meal prepared by Amber and Mike. Christmas glazed ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and on and on!!

The afternoon was spent relaxing, watching movies, working the Christmas puzzle which was finished shortly before midnight on Christmas evening! It was an absolutely WONDERFUL and peaceful Christmas!

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and is a national holiday. Friends and family give gifts to each other on or before Christmas. Tradition holds that the day after Christmas the people would then box things up for the less fortunate and deliver them IN BOXES to them. Hence the name ‘Boxing Day.’

So on Boxing Day when MANY but not all of the businesses and shops are still closed, we ventured out on the icy roads for a car trip to Stonehaven to see Dunnottar Castle. Mike is an excellent driver on these roads having mastered driving in the Scottish manner. We actually rode on some FOUR line highways!! There are NOT many of these!! The village was quaint and picturesque. The long winding and narrow path to the castle was slick with ice and nearly everyone had a few slides when walking. We ventured down as far as we could go and admired the view taking some pictures. Mike walked behind Louis Dean and Amber had charge of me…..they were very protective of us the whole time we were visiting them and I am grateful that neither Louis Dean or I ever fell! Slipped a few times, yes, but never FELL!!

That evening we all went to the movies…..Sherlock Holmes. Mike had picked up our tickets earlier so we PARKED in the car park arriving right on time for the film! Amber, Mike & Stephen all loaded up on drinks and candy and as we were prepared to enter the theater…..we were told the projector was not working and that showing was cancelled! NO signs at the entrance indicating this so MANY people were in line after having purchased their refreshments! So this necessitated another long line to reschedule our showing. They do not seem to be very organized there! Amber, however, gave them some very useful advice! We DID eventually see the movie and finished the night off with a good meal at a Chicago style restaurant. They played old songs from the 40’s-50’s so Louis Dean LOVED it!

He ‘ate’ a meal of TWO Guinesses! By the way, the movie went right over Louis Dean’s head (he has ADD) so toward the second half he went downstairs to the theater’s bar and had a beer before rejoining us for the ending! Worked for HIM!

Sunday was a lazy day with a big breakfast! Jesse and I talked on email and Skype starting to figure out our return home. Our original return date was Dec. 28th …….but then it didn’t look like it would be till Jan 7th or 8th! Louis Dean had run out of some of his medicines so we thought it would be wise to return home earlier than that if possible. So he listed us on Wed. the 30th. Can you be excited to go home and sad to leave at the SAME time? YES! Amber and Mike were so gracious and even THEY were not quite ready for us to leave! Which is a good thing! We all attended church service Sunday evening together and then they went off to do their thing and Louis Dean and I stopped at the Foundry ( a place Amber and Mike go on Wed. nights for all you can eat ribs!) for a glass of wine and some people watching. We sat at a table in the window and talked of all the memories we had made on the trip. Our time had now run out to do more but we had seen all the familiar places Amber and Mike go and I was content. We STILL had a train ride to Inverness to look forward to as a grand finale! So we toasted each other and said CHEERS to Scotland!!

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