Wednesday, 14 December 2011

International just ain't English

Today, we home educating group of pan-global mamas and papas use Christmas as an excuse, and go out together for Christmas dinner.

There wasn't much I recognised of Christmas dinner in a vegetarian Indian meal made by Hindus in a Chinese district of Hong Kong. But I guess it was the route of least offence in bringing together a large mixed crowd of expat home educators, drawn from a range of nations, round the same table under the one banner of Christmas.

Then, for a moment, even though the company was very warm and lovely, I admit, I felt a teeny bit homesick.

Because from here, in the slide down to the big day, I know I will miss my local time-of-the-year ways of England. I have no neighbour with whom to compare shovel action; no Doreen at the Co-op with her Christmas tree earrings; no menacing threat of visitations made by extended family; no anguished considerations about whether to tip the paper boy; no ambush by tinselled charity muggers; no real opportunity to compete on points of mince pie snobbery; no enforced reindeer-antler wearing; and no repressed evening gathering where giggly and risque behaviour appalls everyone, if only they could remember it. (I certainly hope no-one can.)

I will miss all that. For the second year running.

I worry that the children too are far gone from England.

Here I am, teaching Shark, Tiger and Squirrel the multi-national, cross-cultural behaviour suitable for a global scale round the dining table, but are they in danger of being a little culturally lost, and even failing to pick up important local identities?

Like tonight. I fear that my children simply do not know how to behave properly, like English people should.

They refuse to join in the table running, cannot join the rowdy game of throw-balloons-about, and even fail to be drawn by the lure of Santa hats.

After an hour, I observe how my mini grits depressingly begin to resemble the middle management team at the office Christmas party. The tee-total ones. Despite the fact that everyone else's nationhood of kids is running around the tables and playing throw-balloons-about.

It tells me one thing. I must, for the sake of my children, forget I am international in Hong Kong, and get into the proper spirit of Christmas. Then I can teach my gritlets our fine English Christmas customs.

I will tell myself, it is all very well being a global citizen, but some local customs can never be bettered.

We will start gently with whiny complaints about trees, baubles, tinsel, the weather and the cost of everything. Then we will move on to complaining while over-indulging in mince pies. Next we will try social etiquette, where we alternate between being over-polite and downright offensive, before we try advanced skills: making cruel and acerbic judgements on someone else's Christmas decorations while pretending not to.

Finally, I will ensure everyone understands how your mother has a god-given right to get a bit tipsy and launch herself face first over the sofa because it is Christmas.

I think the lessons should begin tonight, ladies, with my large glass of port.


Elibee said...

do not forget to include in this education the time honoured tradition of photocopying body parts!

Elibee said...

do not forget to include in this education the time honoured tradition of photocopying body parts!

Grit said...

the glass of port is working well elibee. i'm already seeing double. xx