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Remembering Christmas Around the World

Kolbe Corp has clients and Kolbe Certified™ Consultants all over the world. Most of our three-day certification programs take place in the USA and Canada, but over the years we have offered training in Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Croatia, Netherlands, Mexico and frequently in the UK.

As someone who lived in the Southern Hemisphere for nine years, I’ve celebrated Christmas on the beach in Rio de Janeiro and at outdoor barbeques in Argentina. The typical picture of snow on the chimney isn’t our experience in our Phoenix home either. I must confess though that I’m a bit of an Anglophile, and the nip in the air and the frost on the ground in London is something that very much appeals to me. My attraction to the writing of Dickens has probably cultivated that in me.

Several Decembers ago, I had the opportunity to deliver a Kolbe Certification Seminar while indulging my senses in the London Christmas scene. Working with Steve Booy, a longtime Kolbe Consultant, we pulled together a diverse audience for this training. Steve always found interesting venues for these sessions, but this time he outdid himself. He set us up at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park, now a management retreat center that had once been the official residence of Princess Helena, Queen Victoria’s favorite daughter.

Built around 1650, this idyllic location provided all the features that anyone would expect to find in an upscale training facility. We were located in the library on the second floor with lovely appointments, books on shelves on three sides and a fire in the hearth. While there was no snow on the ground, it was quite nippy outside but wonderfully cozy inside. Windows on two sides looked over a lovely wooded area of Windsor Park. Although many of the trees had lost their leaves, there were enough evergreens present to give the panorama a green lushness.

The holiday décor was simple compared to what I was familiar with. Evergreen boughs were hung around the lodge with large red bows for adornment. Assortments of silver bells were placed on tables and there was a constant temptation to jingle them in passing.  A fragrance of cut wood added to the Christmas ambience.

The trainees were an eclectic bunch:  four Brits, one Irishman, two Germans, two Dutch, one American, one South African and one woman from the Czech Republic with her Russian father. I resist the temptation to include “.… and a partridge in a pear tree.”  It’s always interesting to have a real mix of nationalities and languages. I remember, the Czech woman had wonderful command of English and spent much of the time whispering in her father’s ear, as his English was less than perfect.

While walking to lunch on the first day, we passed through a long hallway where both walls were covered with hunting and sporting scenes. The house had originally been a country place where all the life of rural England played out. I found myself walking side by side with the Irishman and at a certain point I commented on the rural life portrayed in the pictures with an insightful, “Can you imagine what it would have been like to live in those times?”  His immediate reply was: “Yes, and I know exactly what I would have been doing: fetching and carrying. I come from a long line of servants.”  He laughed; I laughed too, but the point was made.

None of the class participants stayed overnight at the lodge and I decided it was a little too remote and quiet for someone without a car. Steve found me lodging in a nearby village that suited me fine. Once the trek up the staircase with my luggage in tow was completed, I found the quarters quite suitable. I particularly liked the family atmosphere in the tavern below with its roaring fire and lively conversations surrounding me.

We spent three active days at the lodge. The typical sharing that goes on at Kolbe Certification was even more accented by the mix of nationalities to accompany the diverse professions. We could walk the grounds at the breaks and shop at the gift shop with its interesting assortment of local items. I picked up some of the local honey to take home as gifts. Who wouldn’t appreciate honey from royal bees on Windsor Great Park?

I was able to enjoy two days of relaxation in London after the seminar. If you’ve never been to London, do plan to go at Christmas time. Lots of cities have their sparkle, but London has its own vibe and walking the streets during this season is a special treat. The decorations, smells, hustle and bustle, for me at least, have a calming influence. I left London with a great sense of satisfaction for the job done, the new friends met, and the history and experiences absorbed. As one of my favorite Dickens’ characters, Tiny Tim said, “God bless us everyone.”

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