We Brits are an eccentric bunch, apparently.
Obviously, because I live here and have done for all of my 26-and-a-half years on the planet, I don't really notice the little foibles we carry around with us, like always saying "Sorry!" very apologetically whenever someone else bumps into you, even though it 100% was not your fault. Or like @SoVeryBritish on Twitter notes, "going through a door because it's being held for you, regardless of your intended destination," or "writing a terribly modest CV, for fear of appearing boastful."
Having just spent some time in America, I became more aware of the funny little things we do or say, or have, that don't really translate. We found ourselves explaining the workings of the National Health Service to some older guys from Ohio around the pool who told us how much they hate the idea of "O-Bummer-Care" and wanted to know what we thought.
We thought that we wanted to carry on reading our books, but instead smiled and nodded.
I forgot that asking "Where's the loo? I'm dying for a wee" in a restaurant would get me some funny looks. It's bathroom! I forgot that you can't buy orange squash in Walmart, despite Walmart selling EVERYTHING including guns. They did do those Dasani flavoured water drops, though, which were a semi-decent alternative. I always say that if you could buy Robinson's Orange Squash in all supermarkets in America, then America would be perfect.
The British go absolutely stark raving lunatic over Christmas. See, you guys have Thanksgiving, so from what I can gather, the steam for Christmas doesn't really start to get going until properly into December. Not here. Nuh-uh. From mid-October, shops are decking the halls and whacking on the Christmas compilation CDs that ALWAYS have the same songs on.
It's still November and I think I must have heard Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" about 45 times. Oh, and the ADVERTS! Christmas adverts start here in about AUGUST. Every major supermarket has its own version of some sentimental family story which culminates in everyone sitting round a table in paper party hats, pulling crackers. The John Lewis one cost SEVEN MILLION POUNDS. I love them all.
One major seasonal thing is the launch of the Christmas Sandwich. You truly know that November has arrived when your supermarket, local shop or artisan deli of choice is offering up its pre-packaged Christmas Sandwich.
These sandwiches take on many guises - you get the standard Turkey and Cranberry, the vegetarian friendly Brie and Grape, the more left-field, three-sandwich-strong, total Christmas Lunch sandwich which is a whole meal packaged in cardboard; the Prawn Cocktail "'starter (appetizer)" sandwich, the Turkey and Stuffing "main (entrée)" sandwich and the Cheeseboard "dessert (there's not another word for dessert, right?)" sandwich.
They're such a part of office-lunchtime-life in the UK between now and Christmas Day that I don't bat an eyelid at them. I saw a BuzzFeed post go viral the other day, where office workers had gone out and bought all of the Christmas Sandwiches available to them from local eateries, and rated them 1-10. It really made me laugh, and I thought our resident xoFood expert, the one Claire Lower, would appreciate the link. I posted it on her Facebook wall.
Now, I thought Christmas Sandwiches were a thing everywhere. Apparently not.
Claire later informed me that leftover sarnies are obviously a thing over on your side of the pond, but that you guys don't have the pre-packaged versions that we know so well over here. I'm sad for you.
But not that sad, because you have BIRTHDAY CAKE OREOS FFS.
Claire also informed me that you guys eat HAM on Christmas! What is this sorcery?
Seeing as you can't just pop to your local shop and pick up one of our festive beasts, here are three ideas for you to try at home and then wrap in cellophane and take to work, smug in the knowledge that your lunch is way more authentically British-ly festive than everyone else's, apart from anyone who is eating a full-on turkey at their desk.
BRIE AND GRAPE
Butter two slices of white bread. Always white for the cheesy ones, I reckon. The one above is on oatmeal, but you do you! Cut up about four grapes into halves. Get a load of brie and cut yourself off a massive wedge. It's christmas! Calories ain't nothing but a very large number. Maybe throw some kind of spiced chutney in there. Put in between bread. Eat, while watching the Coca Cola Christmas advert.
More bread and butter . That's a given, what with it being a sandwich. (This one's a bit more time-consuming, because you actually have to cook all this stuff up. That's why pre-packaged ones are the shiznit.)
Add turkey breast, cooked and sliced sausage, bacon, stuffing -- which obviously you have loads of laying around the house what with it being winter. Cover one side of bread in cranberry sauce and the other in mayonnaise. Eat, while naming all of Santa's reindeers and rewarding yourself for each one correctly named with an extra bite.
BOXING DAY SARNIE
Boxing Day here is the day after Christmas Day, traditionally known as the day where you just lay around in your onesies and eat all the leftover cold meats and stuffing from the day before, but with added Pringles.
This sandwich is easy. It's the same as above, but mixed up so the fillings are all mushed together, and with Pringles (preferably Soured Cream and Chive, because they are the best/have the most MSG in) added for extra crunch. Eat, while watching old Eastender's Christmas Specials on Youtube.
Do you long for pre-packaged sandwiches in peculiar, vaguely festive flavours? Do you think that the idea of a cheeseboard in a sandwich is probably one of the best ideas ever thought? Should I stop saying the word "sandwich" now as it's lost all meaning? Comment away!
I'm on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM