Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Word About the Holidays (specially the ones away from home)

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!” Dave Barry

As a family we've made the conscious or maybe not so conscious decision of staying put for the holidays.  So, wherever we called home for a period of time, we just made the Holidays work for us.

Thanksgiving 2013, dinner prepared for last minute guests.  Not bad at all.
I have a big extended family and growing up we always gathered in my home to celebrate Christmas.  My husband too comes from a large family and Holidays were a time to get together and celebrate.  When we got married and moved away from our families the first end of the year approached and we faced the grand dilemma: What should we do for the Holidays this year?  I had bought a fake 5 feet tall tree just in case I wouldn't find anything in the mainly Buddhist country where we had been sent.  I was glad a bought that tree because it was used to celebrate our first Christmas as expats.

That first Christmas we spent it with other singles and childless couples.  After dinner we played Charades and had a good time.  It did feel more like a cocktail party than a Holiday party.  I wasn't really pleased, but that's what happened.

After we had kids maintaining our traditions became more important.  We bought a better tree and started getting together with other families with children.  Christmas became more of what I remember growing up.  The difference was that we didn't have blood ties, we were an expat family.

Once you move away from home, you will meet others that are in the same situation.  They will relate to what you are going through.  Very strong friendships are formed and spending the Holidays with your Expat Extended Family can be a wonderful thing.  If you add to that the avoidance of having to deal with the family issues all families have, it can be a very attractive option.  If there's nothing planned, invite people to your home. They are going to be so glad to be invited they won't care if the plates don't match.  Believe me, the holiday cheer will spread.

Our not so perfect 2012 Xmas tree.
If you are moving just before the holidays, make sure you pack in your suitcase the items that will make your new place more holiday-ready.  I went to Target and bought some foam holiday signs (yes, you always have to watch the weight of your suitcases).  I also packed scissors, scotch tape and wrapping paper.  I shipped holiday candy and presents for my children ahead of time.

There's been times when we've had Chinese food for Thanksgiving, but as long as there was pumpkin pie, we were thankful for being healthy, having a loving family and for experiencing life overseas.  Have a wonderful Holiday Season!  Peace Out.

Have you spent a holiday away from home?  Do you have any tips on how to make them better for your kids?

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