Hussein Written by

BA Hons Multimedia Journalism

One of the best parts about international living is being able to exchange cultures and celebrations. As December progresses, we step into the time of Christmas festivities with bright lights, colourful decorations, and hot chocolates. As someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas and come from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia where Christmas is not a common celebration, I find great pleasure and beauty of this season when I got here. And this year I was privileged to get a taste of what that life is like with a fun little activity of tree decorating and a Christmas dinner.

Christmas decorations have always been a pretty sight to see but I didn’t realise how much fun it would be to decorate your own space. My flatmate and I were in ASDA going through the Christmas aisles and decided to pull out a small £12 fake pine tree off the shelf. I felt excited. We moved over and took our time trying to piece together how the tree would look. After leaning towards a silver-toned decor, we grabbed silver tinsels, silver baubles, a silver star tree topper, and just for the fun of it I took a little tiny light up snowman figurine. As we walked back to our flat, we quickly start decorating. My flatmate popped some Christmas tunes on; songs popular enough that even as someone who doesn’t celebrate it was able to sing along. We propped the tiny tree up on a table and started to expand the branches and give it it’s look. We added the tinsels, baubles, and decorated other parts of our kitchen as well. As an added effort, I took four little baubles and customised it to each of my flatmate’s initials. I guess, for a few hours we both were just rocking around the Christmas tree.

Doing a Christmas dinner was an entirely interesting process. I hosted conversations with my flatmates and did some research on what a Christmas dinner was made of. We decided to have Yorkshire puddings, roasted potatoes and vegetables, mash and gravy, roasted chicken, apple pie, and pigs in a blanket. I had an inkling of what a Christmas dinner consist of, but I never knew what the staple dishes were. After doing a quick grocery run trying to get all the ingredients on a Friday afternoon, we were all ready to go for tomorrow.

I took responsibility for the chicken, the apple pie, and the pigs in a blanket. A lot to do and a lot of prior research and recipe reading was done before heading in the kitchen. I had some culinary skills, and I used all my expertise to craft these dishes. I started cooking at 1pm and called my flatmate into the kitchen to keep me company. As I begin the steps for each dish, the festive mood kicks in. Being able to take time to piece together the elements, and only focusing on flour and sugar, garlic and rosemary, made me feel very happy. It felt like a nice stress-free day off away from work and life. The Christmas tunes and conversations in between made the cold December day, nice and warm.

Around 5pm, I finally took a break. Pie was done, pigs in a blanket was done, and the chicken was just slid into the hot oven. An hour later, we all came back into the kitchen to complete the other dishes before setting the table down. I was nervous whether the chicken would be cooked through or if the flavour will taste nice, I only had little experience and roughly followed a recipe. But once our weekly movie was playing up on the TV and all the dishes were done, we set everything down on the table, and dig away. Thankfully, the chicken and other dishes came out well. It tasted great and it wasn’t dry! I felt accomplished.

The night continued with popping crackers, reading aloud terrible Christmas themed jokes, watching our movie, and holding conversations. Overall, it was one of the nicest experiences I have held living in the UK so far. I enjoyed the festive feels, the new knowledge I gained, and the company. That being said, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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