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John Lewis Christmas advert 2016

You know Christmas isn’t Christmas until the John Lewis advert comes out!

The last couple of John Lewis Christmas adverts have been kind of a bust for me (especially the weird man in the moon advert from last year, which I didn’t even blog about because it was so ridiculous – but I did laugh at the Guardian’s take on it. As an aside, this style of writing is why British newspapers completely kick American newspapers’ big fat bums.)

And without further ado, here is this year’s advert — which I really like. Animals bouncing on trampolines! It’s simple pleasure tied up in a big red bow!

What do you think? Yay or nay?

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Lego: Let’s Build advert

This sweet holiday advert for Lego has pleasantly reminded me that the holiday advert season is beginning in the U.K. I can’t wait to see what some of my favorite British brands have up their sleeves this year!

British panto season

keepcalmandpantoLast weekend, we took the kids to their first play in the theater – and their first British panto.

For the uninitiated, British panto is a rich holiday tradition that goes back for centuries. It’s a family-friendly musical theater extravaganza, always during the holidays, with lots of audience participation. There are some constants: The shows are always based on a fairytale. Pantos always include a dame (the story’s narrator) played by a man dressed in drag, a horse or cow, and a leading man, played by a woman wearing boots and shorts. I’ve been to a panto years ago when we were living in the U.K. but haven’t seen one in recent years and never here in the states. When we heard there was playing here in Sacramento (City Theatre), we had to check it out.

The panto was “Alice in Wonderland” and we loved it. They threw some characters from “The Nutcracker” into the mix, along with heavy pop culture references and some familiar pop songs. Candy was tossed into the audience at regular intervals, we had a great time shouting at the actors (“She’s behind you!”) and we were all given balls to pelt the Queen of Hearts. It was amazing, manic and joyful and will certainly be part of our holiday tradition going forward.

Now I am just hoping the kids aren’t really disappointed when they go to a regular play for the first time!

Happy Boxing Day!

Zellers Canada: Boxing Day Flyer

Happy Boxing Day!

Boxing Day? Well, yes. It is an honest to goodness holiday in Britain and aside from being one more guaranteed day off from work following the Christmas holiday (Dec. 26th is not a public holiday in the U.S.), it is also the official day of boxing up old toys, belongings and, you know, junk that we no longer use and box it up.

Or maybe that’s just us and how we celebrate the holiday.

In fact, there are a few theories about the origins of Boxing Day. Check out the Time Magazine story.

However you’re celebrating this special sleeper holiday, I hope it finds you smiling!