When the military gave my husband the assignment to the UK, I was absolutely thrilled. It was a chance to change our life and live outside our comfort zones, experience another culture and give our kids the experience of living abroad on the governments dime. Unfortunately I didn't realize there isn't a manual for moving oversea provided by the government. Basically, they buy the airline tickets, take care of your visas and passports, provide you lodging until you can sort out your housing situation, tell you some interesting places to visit and send you on your way. Helpful, but it all leaves you with your head spinning, feeling like you have landed on an alien planet with no sense of direction.
Last year, my first experiences with English customs were interesting to say the least. On Pancake Day last year I thought LaLa was yanking my chain when she told me she needed to bring a pancake and a frying pan to school (about 15 minutes before we were due to leave for school). What the heck does she need a pancake for? Pancake races, that's what! Of course she also ended up with an American pancake as opposed to what is considered a pancake here. I call the type of pancakes they make here crepes. Live and learn.
I though after that experience that my learning of English traditions was down pat. So wrong. I forgot to let LaLa wear her princess dress to school on St. George's day. Prompting me to run home and find it and bring it back up to the school, with my daughter in tears. The piece de resistance though was when we were required to make an Easter bonnet. I really didn't know how seriously some of the parents at my daughter's school took their Easter bonnets. LaLa ended up at school with a gaudily decorated paper plate on her head. It was ridiculous. Thankfully as a backup I had thought to bring a cute pink, blue and yellow spring hat. However that did not manage to make me feel like any less of a failure when it came to the customs of my host country.
This year though, I am prepared. Yesterday was Pancake Day. This gives me roughly 40 days to come up with an Easter bonnet. When in Rome (or England) do what the natives do, buy a bonnet pattern on eBay.