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Christmas in the Cotswolds

When I was young, Christmas Eve was a family day spent shopping and having something to eat afterward. My father always wanted to avoid crowded indoor malls so when we lived in England, we would spend Christmas Eve in whatever charming, yellow-stone village my parents selected that year, sometimes stopping for hot tea with milk and buttery scones in Stow on the Wold, or in charming Chipping Campden, maybe taking in a restaurant meal of roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding in Banbury Cross after shopping, or a plowman's lunch in Wroxton Village. At the Wroxton Inn, the waiter would leave pastel-papered cigarettes in a pretty silver box with the check. [Years later, when we returned to the United States, my brother and I would discover two stale Wroxton cigarettes stowed away in a secret cubby hole in an oak antique desk my parents had lovingly refinished in England. Needless to say, we decided to try smoking that day, taking them beneath the tall deck on the back of our house. We were rebels that day with two stale pastel cigarettes from England--cigarettes that tasted awful and made us cough--we never became smokers.] In the Cotswolds, it seemed every Christmas Eve there'd be snow, the fluffy kind of snow that would collect on your eyelashes and make everything seem Christmasy. Because my organized mother would have all her Christmas shopping done, the rule for the Christmas Eve shopping expedition was that the kids would have to buy thoughtful presents for one another. I liked the tradition of looking forward to giving rather than just receiving. Every Christmas Eve, I remember the Cotswolds Christmas Eves fondly. Someday, I'd like to show my own family the places I visited in England. My son is saving his money for his own overseas adventures.

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