In Southern California where I grew up, any type of weather (that isn’t fire) causes excitement. Reactions to rain, snow, and wind usually go something like this:
Oh wow! Look at the drops of water falling out of the sky! Oooo, FROZEN water falling out of the sky! Let’s play in it! Did I just feel a breeze?! Will I be affected by seasons changing? Does this mean I should DO something? Who knows, but it’s SO exciting!
Think I’m exaggerating? Just watch this video of Californians being baffled by winter preparedness.
Then there’s always the out-of-stater rolling their eyes like, “Really? You call THIS snow/wind/rain? This is a joke compared to what we get where I’m from! I used to walk for miles in this type of weather, and I thought nothing of it!”
Let’s just say, seasons are a new experience for both of us. Even though this is our third English winter, I’m still not used to all of the norms that come along with it. Everyone talks about culture shock, but I can tell you that moving to another climate is just as much of an adjustment.
So, in the spirit of Christmas and winter, I thought I’d list some of the seasonal protocols that are obvious to everyone but me.
- Being obsessed with the weather is normal.
The UK is famous for gloomy weather, and I expected Brits to be so accustomed to it that they wouldn’t take notice of a rainy day. But actually Brits like to dwell on bad weather like it’s breaking news -some would call it an obsession. It didn’t take long for me to pick up on this. On an autumn rainy day two years ago, I kept my mouth shut thinking no one else would mention it. Then one of my colleagues walked up to the window in our office and said, “Look how miserable it is out there! What a miserable day! It’s so dark and awful!” The office responded with a chorus of, “You’re right! It’s so horrible.” I felt like this reaction was a little over the top considering it’s like this ALL THE TIME. But as I’ve discovered, complaining about the weather is just part of normal conversation. First exchange pleasantries, and then say how awful the weather is.
2. Winter = a fight against nature.
There are some obvious things you have to battle in the winter like darkness and cold, but I didn’t expect mold to be such a problem. I can’t remember ever even seeing mold before we moved to England. Except for on HGTV shows where they peel back some paint, and say “Woah mold, where’s my gas mask? We’re going to have to demo this wall now.” Mold is a familiar nuisance here, and you just have to be diligent in wiping it off surfaces (walls, ceilings, windows, etc.) before it takes over. It’s common sense really, but I still haven’t gotten into an efficient mold-prevention routine. Sometimes I pull back a curtain to find black edges around the window, and I don’t even want to talk about the walls behind the radiators. It’s a constant battle that we can’t seem to win, but I guess it’s just part of living in a damp country.
3. If the sun’s out, washing’s out.
So I’m a little proud of myself for adapting to not having a dryer. Two years ago, I wrote about the struggle of living without one. Although I still miss the convenience of tumble drying towels and bedding, I feel like I’ve got a handle on the situation now. I’ve simply accepted the fact that a sunny day means that it’s time to wash alllllll the things.
4. Winter means saying goodbye to natural light.
All the photos I took last winter were crap because there was hardly any natural light in our house. It’s a shame, because I feel way more creative in winter than I do in the summer (when there’s more to do outside). Remember my table cloth, chalkboard wall, and dyed sofa? All winter projects. Obviously I need to improve my photography skills, so that winter photos don’t look so sad.
5. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing.
For me, the transition from autumn to winter is really abrupt. It’s like once the clocks turn back, there’s an immediate shift from a normal amount of daylight to darkness all the time. All of the sudden the sun sets at 3:30 pm, and it’s a struggle to stay active in the evening. It’s amazing how attune our bodies are to things like daylight and weather. I’m #blessed with a body that goes into survival mode at the tiniest temperature change (joy). I want to eat everything in sight, and sit on the sofa wrapped in a blanket until spring. It’s only taken me 2 months and several packs of biscuits to adjust -an improvement from last year though. 😂
6. Society can’t even when it snows.
Traffic is horrendous, trains are cancelled, and everyone acts like the end is near.
7. Winter can be magical if you make the most of it.
We’re still learning about British Christmas traditions, and enjoying all the new experiences. This year we made it to our high street’s Light Switch On party for the first time. It’s nice to feel more and more apart of the community where we live. We went ice skating at the Natural History Museum for my birthday, and returned to the Southbank Christmas Market for the second year in a row.
Even though we aren’t with family this Christmas, there is still so much to be thankful for and enjoy this season. I hope you can say the same. Merry Christmas!