A Very English Christmas

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I truly love the way my in-laws celebrate the holidays!  My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and Husband are all from Reading, England (accents and all) and we celebrate the holidays with this insanely wonderful, British charm.


We slept in until 8 AM, and then I was greeted by strong, French press coffee and Cadbury covered-shortbread biscuits




The chocolate maps are the best, don’t you agree?


I ate half a banana, too, and then we all watched as my mother-in-law and sister-in-law cooked the most amazing breakfast:


Plus mimosas!


So, a fun tradition for English folk are crackers.  As my mother-in-law puts it, crackers are “A true Christmas tradition in England.  We open them at the dinner table with crossed hands.  I don’t know why we do it that way, but we do!  Whoever gets the center of the cracker, gets that hat and prize.  Plus, they go BANG when you pull them.  The kids love them, but the adults think, “Ohmigoodness I’ve got to wear that hat all through dinner!”  But it’s just a little bit of fun! Don’t they have the crackers in America?!  What do you do?!”  Please imagine the preceding spoken in a cute, English accent with lots of tra-la-la laughs in between. 


I got a red hat and a plastic pink charm bracelet.   The boys got a mini deck of cards and a blue plastic shoehorn.


Yes, we wore the ugly sweaters to breakfast.   Got to get use out of them.


The ladies cooked hash browns, English muffins with scrambled egg and steamed spinach covered in a rich homemade Hollandaise sauce, and stir-fried mushrooms.



Then, we sloooowly opened presents.  I bet we have the highest presents per minute ratio in the entire country. 


Guess what I got?


I need to order a smaller size, but I am SO excited to try barefoot running in the Spring!


We also went on a lovely walk on my very favorite trail of the entire world.  It is absolutely PERFECT weather in Palm Coast today….




I hope you’re having a very Merry Christmas (or just a wonderful Saturday).  Happy holidays from my family to you and yours!



  • emily December 25, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Merry Christmas!

  • grocery goddess jen December 25, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Caitlin, you’re missing all the snow in North Carolina! I’m enjoying it now, but I think by tomorrow I’ll be ready to be somewhere with perfect weather, too!

  • stevie December 25, 2010, 4:03 pm

    Just so you know, the Vibram website recommends those that are allergic to latex not to wear them, due to latex in the bonding compound.

    • Caitlin December 25, 2010, 4:03 pm

      I read that! I think I’m going to get the socks. I’ll probably be fine because I’m not highly allergic.

    • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good December 25, 2010, 5:27 pm

      I’m glad I saw this, and I thank you for posting the warning. I was toying with the idea of Vibrams, and I AM allergic to latex.

  • Freya December 25, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Wooaah I didn’t realise Americans didn’t have crackers!! I thought they were a Western-world thing :p well I never! Be sure to keep up that tradition, it’s annoying and fun in equal measures 🙂
    Have a great evening!

  • Lauren December 25, 2010, 4:08 pm

    Merry Christmas…my sister & I wore our ugly sweaters for part of our family’s Christmas too. Everyone loved them!

  • Krystina (Basil & Wine) December 25, 2010, 4:14 pm

    Merry Christmas! Your day sounds lovely. 🙂

  • Rach December 25, 2010, 4:16 pm

    Oh my goodness, this is so fabulous! My family is British, but I was raised in China so I didn’t grow up with any of the old traditions. My husband’s family is Italian and I’ve embraced his culture so we are celebrating a very Italian Christmas this year. Maybe next year we’ll add in some British traditions… I just need to learn about them, I guess, haha! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • Amara December 25, 2010, 4:22 pm

    I wish we DID do crackers! I also wish our Christmas lasted longer than 5 minutes 🙂 Anyway good luck with the Vibrams. Take it slowly –adding a few minutes barefoot each time. Going too fast can give you an injury –like plantar fasciitis which is what happened to me. I was so bummed!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 25, 2010, 4:26 pm

    all I needed to read was this: “strong, French press coffee and Cadbury covered-shortbread biscuits.”

    But wait..Mimosas!!!!!!

    The best.

    Plus english accents…perfect!

    So glad you’ve had an awesome day!

  • Angela December 25, 2010, 4:26 pm

    It’s not a British Christmas without a tin of Cadbury’s biscuits and a HUGE box of Roses chocolates. That and the Top of the Pops Christmas special on TV!

    Merry Christmas!

  • J. December 25, 2010, 4:34 pm

    You’re having a lovely time. That’s heartwarming to see.
    I’m struggling a bit today — but I’m making it a day like every other! A TV marathon (literally) + a lot of eating…I may go for a short walk (its very cold out my way). Wish I could do more (Perhaps next christmas!?).
    TV and food…yep, just same old 😉
    (Chocolate maps are the best, as are hash browns and eggs and caramel filled treats). Have a wonderful weekend.

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) December 25, 2010, 4:36 pm

    I love those cracker things! They are fun!!! 🙂

    I really want to try out barefoot running! I suffer from a lot IT band pain and I’ve heard that they can help! I’ll look forward to reading about your experiences with them!

  • J. December 25, 2010, 4:36 pm

    Oh, and the English traditions are interesting.
    I’m used to the standard chicken, turkey, desserts, potatoes, etc, etc – fare. Interesting to see other traditions.

  • Erin December 25, 2010, 4:37 pm

    My family uses those crackers too! Last night, the prize in my sister’s was a fingernail clipper. It shot out and shattered her wine glass! And of course, we all sat around in our paper crowns reading the cheesy jokes. 🙂

  • Jes (Self Motivation) December 25, 2010, 4:38 pm

    Merry Christmas! Love your new Vibrams!

  • VeggieGirl December 25, 2010, 4:38 pm

    Oooooh, lovely chocolates, gifts, and trail!


  • Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks December 25, 2010, 4:52 pm

    Man. I love the British. I used to have dreams of running off to live in London. 🙂

    James looks so festive, I love it!

    Congrats on the Vibrams, even if you do have to exchange them for size. I love them in the blue.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Lauren December 25, 2010, 4:56 pm

    I love the English traditions. What a wonderful day. Merry Christmas Caitlin!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 25, 2010, 5:17 pm

    What fun traditions!! Merry Christmas, Caitlin!

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good December 25, 2010, 5:28 pm

    Merry Christmas!

  • Dominique December 25, 2010, 5:33 pm

    I was at the BF’s last night for Christmas dinner (I celebrate with my family tonight but BF has to work–boo). We had Christmas crackers too. I didn’t know they weren’t a Western tradition–I totally thought they were. There were five of us and we each got a different coloured paper hat, which the BF’s mother insisted we wear throughout the entire dinner. My prize was a yellow hair tie and the men got annoying whistle things. BF’s mom got a puzzle keychain which fell apart twice.

    I’m down with a nasty cold so I don’t know if I’ll be partaking in Christmas dinner tonight–maybe just a teensy bit of everything–but I hope you’re having a lovely time with your husband and his family. Merry Christmas to you all!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit December 25, 2010, 5:42 pm

    So cute. I love the British traditions!

  • Ellie December 25, 2010, 5:43 pm

    awww thanks for sharing this! everything’s so cute–and I love the British ways, because in SOME ways it’s similar to Argentine ways–where I’m from. Except I’m..Korean. 🙂 anyway! I need maps for chocolate boxes due to my selfish inconsiderate ways…yes, I’m the type to slightly poke at the chocolates to see what’s inside them. *sighhh* I need to change my ways

  • Little Bookworm December 25, 2010, 5:44 pm

    Love this post! Hope you and your family had a fantastic Christmas day! 🙂

  • Danielle December 25, 2010, 5:51 pm

    I love learning about the way different cultures celebrate the same holiday. So fun and festive 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) December 25, 2010, 5:55 pm

    Cute post! Love the Vibrams!
    That’s so funny that Americans don’t use crackers! I didn’t know that! I’m English, and so reading this post was funny! 😀

  • Natalia - a side of simple December 25, 2010, 5:59 pm

    Merry Christmas, Caitlin, to you and your family 🙂

  • Gigi December 25, 2010, 6:04 pm

    Love the trail and the weather in Palm Coast. The crackers sound so fun and interesting.

  • Camille December 25, 2010, 6:19 pm

    What a great morning! English Christmas looks so fun 🙂

  • Kaitlin December 25, 2010, 6:33 pm

    I love those cadbury chocolate biscuits! Yum. I’m spending my first Christmas in Florida and loving the weather. Merry Christmas!

  • nicole December 25, 2010, 7:23 pm

    James looks so festive! Merry Christmas!

  • Maryann December 25, 2010, 7:29 pm

    Looks like a blast 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • Amber K December 25, 2010, 7:32 pm

    What an interesting tradition! I love learning more about English traditions from your blog. 🙂

  • Baking 'n' Books December 25, 2010, 7:57 pm

    I hibernated 😉 Watched a movie, baked, ate chocolate – the usual. Tea and biscuits? How quaint! 🙂

  • Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries December 25, 2010, 8:09 pm

    This is exactly what my tomorrow will look like- Cadbury’s and Christmas crackers with those funny little paper crowns!! My best friend’s family is British and we always celebrate boxing day with them. Hope you enjoyed your Christmas!!

  • erica December 25, 2010, 8:11 pm

    merry christmas! i love that fun tradition. and all the paper hats too!

  • Kelly December 25, 2010, 8:42 pm

    Merry Christmas! I love awesome family traditions like that 🙂 I’m glad to hear the weather is nice down in FL right now because I’m headed down there tomorrow, wahoo.

  • Courtney (greeneyedrunner) December 25, 2010, 9:02 pm

    Merry Christmas! Crackers remind me of Harry Potter, so I think that they would be the greatest of fun!
    I love eggs on Christmas morning. While I’m not vegetarian, I have a very vegan appetite until the afternoon, but Christmas morning is an exception. My mom uses spinach and feta…all the nutrients in spinach puts me a in a great mood!

  • Brittany December 25, 2010, 9:10 pm

    Merry Christmas Caitlin!! One of my best friend’s family is from England and I love hearing about their traditions – your Christmas day sounded quite lovely.

  • janae @ hungryrunnergirl December 25, 2010, 9:18 pm

    I am so excited for you to try those out!! I LOVE my Vibrams SO SO SO much:) Merry Christmas!!

  • Evan Thomas December 25, 2010, 9:32 pm

    We had Christmas crackers, too! They startled the old people every time we opened one.

    Merry Christmas, Caitlin and Kristien!

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss December 25, 2010, 9:42 pm

    Oh yeah, they definitely know how to celebrate!! Glad you had a great time!

  • Mel December 25, 2010, 10:08 pm

    Looks like you had a good day.
    I am feeling unspirited now.
    I have overindulged. Much too much. Binged really. And its nearly every night.
    Unfortunately, I have a chronic inflammatory condition that prevents me from exercising. So I feel doubly guilty.

    I wish I could get my head on straight like you so admirably have Tina. Best wishes on Christmas.

    • Lacey @ Lake Life December 26, 2010, 12:32 am

      What are you bingeing on? This is Caitlin’s blog, not Tina’s.

      • Caitlin December 26, 2010, 11:00 am

        Yup, it’s me, Caitlin!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 25, 2010, 10:35 pm

    Merry Christmas Caitlin! Looks like you had a great day – I would love to sit around and listen to English accents all day! 🙂

    I’m pretty sure my Husband’s family has the longest present opening time in the world. I love it though!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 25, 2010, 10:43 pm

    Merry Christmas!

    We always have crackers and wear those paper crowns throughout our meal too. 😀

  • Alison December 25, 2010, 10:49 pm

    Merry Christmas!! We don’t celebrate until the day after Christmas in my family, but we ALWAYS have crackers! I love seeing my grandparents in the paper hats 🙂

  • Ashley December 26, 2010, 12:13 am

    Merry Christmas! I’ve heard of crackers before but never seen one. Those vibrams look great.

  • Lacey @ Lake Life December 26, 2010, 12:30 am

    Merry Christmas Caitlin! I got your book as a present today 🙂

    Now my question is, is that English muffin on your plate simply called a “muffin” by the hub and his fam?

    • Caitlin December 26, 2010, 10:59 am

      baw haha! it’s still called an english muffin!

  • Maddie December 26, 2010, 1:07 am

    I think if my family were British I would feel like I was in Harry Potter all the time, which would be wonderful. I’m quite jealous. Glad you had fun!
    Good luck on the Vibrams! I’m so curious about those…but I think my arches would kill me.

    • Caitlin December 26, 2010, 10:59 am

      The hus went to a prep school that looked like the harry potter castle!

  • Angela December 26, 2010, 1:09 am

    Your pictures all came out great! I want some of those Vibrams! I’m in training for a marathon and have wondered how those would help! Merry Christmas


  • Jen December 26, 2010, 1:31 am

    Wait wait wait…Americans don’t do Christmas crackers?! That’s just crazy! My family’s background is Scots/English (I’m Canadian) so we always have crackers…it’s not Christmas without a stupid tissue paper hat on your head!

  • Katey @c Bonne Santé December 26, 2010, 3:50 am

    We do the cracker thing in Aus too – didn’t realise it wasn’t a global phenomenon! Gotta have that lingering gunpowder scent over xmas lunch 🙂
    Oh and a big YES to the vibrams! You will love love love them!
    Merry Christmas x

  • Carin December 26, 2010, 3:59 am

    Happy Christmas, Caitline and family – and happy Boxing Day too! (Bet you’re going to have to explain that one tomorrow as I understand that the Americans don’t do it?)

    Are you having British or American style stuffing? English sherry trifle? Brussels sprouts? Do you have mince pies? Mince pies are my ABSOLUTE favourite thing about Xmas!

    • Carin December 26, 2010, 4:38 am

      Soz, typo – didn’t mean to rename you “Caitline”!

      Did your crackers have corny jokes in them?

    • Caitlin December 26, 2010, 10:59 am

      We had mince pies, chocolate pudding, and british stuffing!

  • Wei-Wei December 26, 2010, 7:03 am

    I love how English people say “Oh my goodness” 😀 Merry Christmas! Looks like a lot of fun :]

  • Marina December 26, 2010, 8:43 am

    looks like a great Christmas morning.
    merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) December 26, 2010, 9:17 am

    What a lovely post! And what a lovely Christmas. 😀

    I can’t wait to see how you like barefoot running. I’ve been tempted to try it out myself. 😀

  • Sarah December 26, 2010, 9:54 am

    I can’t believe you don’t have crackers in America!! We used to stock up on them at Christmas time (and after, when they’re on sale) and save them for special occasions during the year! I love, LOVE crackers!!!

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday!

  • Kate December 26, 2010, 2:17 pm

    A lovely holiday indeed! Keep us “posted” on the barefoot running – those things fascinate me.

  • Tiffany December 26, 2010, 5:21 pm

    My family’s British, so it’s always been part of our tradition, but Williams-Sonoma sells crackers too!

  • Tracy December 26, 2010, 9:38 pm

    We alway have crackers here in NZ too. Mind you kiwi xmas is way different to American xmas so I don’t know why I’m suprised you don’t have them.

  • maria December 27, 2010, 9:41 am

    My husband bought me Operation Beautiful. I cant wait to begin reading it. Thank you for writing it.

    • Caitlin December 28, 2010, 9:12 am

      Thank you so much!!

  • catherine December 27, 2010, 4:36 pm

    your in-laws dont live far away from me! christmas in the US seems very different to the uk, im a veggie but we have HUDGE roast turkys, stuffing, roast potatos, christmas pudding! loads of stuff, not alot seems to be the same in the US though. its nice to see how much it all differs.

    (being a veggie i have same without meat)
    i adore crackers, wearing the hats is something you have to do!


  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) December 27, 2010, 11:18 pm

    We have those crackers in Canada, and you can buy them everywhere … Walmart, Costco, etc.. I always put one at everyone’s place setting, and then everyone wears the hats 🙂

  • Ali December 28, 2010, 9:08 am

    When I ran my marathon in October, I saw a guy wearing the Vibrams! I was so impressed and wondered if his feet hurt towards the end. Glad you had a great Christmas 🙂

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