Gemma Samuel, 34; Fin Samuel, 2
“We moved to Chicago for my husband’s job. He makes television ads. We currently live in Lincoln Park, but we’re thinking about a move to Lincoln Square because it seems to be getting more family friendly and the schools are really good up there.”
What’s the origin of your accent?
We’re British, but we’ve been living in Chicago for three years.
Are Brit Christmases as wonderfully Dickensian as I imagine—cheerful despite this sometimes cruel world?
We do cook somewhat different foods. We have something called bread sauce, which is ground bread with nutmeg and cloves and milk. It goes on the turkey. And then we do a Christmas pudding with raisins, currants and bread crumbs. Do Americans have that?
Ha! We do pumpkin pie—with canned pumpkin. So Christmas is important in your house?
Yes. Fin is developmentally delayed—he’s got low vision, so he gets a lot of information about the world from touching. He really loves anything shiny, sparkly, crackly and anything tactile. Christmas is great fun for him because it’s like an extrasensory feast with all the wrapping paper and whatnot.
Does church figure in?
Last year, we tried to go to midnight Mass and sing Christmas carols at a Lutheran church here, not that we’re Lutheran. But everyone was dressed in chinos and matching shirts and was all holier-than-thou. It was really disappointing, actually.
With your son growing up with American Christmases, are you worried he’ll one day expect you to line up at 4am in front of a Wal-Mart and tackle other parents to get some must-have toy?
I’m trying to instill the British traditions, which are a little less commercialized than here. We’ll have, like, a tangerine, a sixpence coin and dollar gifts rather than crazy designer clothes. Then, the day after Christmas, Brits have Boxing Day, when relatives come over and you eat all the cold turkey.
Somehow the leftovers are always more delicious.
Everything’s [been] marinated for a bit, hasn’t it?