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There are always going to be days as an expat that are more difficult than others. It goes without saying that we miss things; family, friends, traditions, shops, chocolate…
I’ve written before about the differences between the things that I expected to miss as an expat, and the things that I actually do. Less stuff; more people.
But, there are definitely times of the year that are harder. Birthdays, holidays. Christmas.
I never really thought about the traditions that I associated with ‘my’ Christmas, they just happened, habits developed over years. My childhood and teenage Christmases becoming my young adult (single, and not) Christmases. They involved family, food and Christmas TV. Simple, but comfortingly similar each year.
Once you have your own family, you develop your own traditions; creating magic and memories for, and with, your partner and your children. These traditions become engrained and expected.
As an expat, you are transplanted in to a different culture. And while, for us, the US and the UK share many similarities, they are not the same.
Christmas cake, mince pies, the Eastenders Christmas Special. Things you take for granted are no longer (easily) available. You have to recreate, make and make do.
And, sometimes, that sucks.
Yes, I can make mince pies. Yes, I can make a Christmas cake (should I magically gain a week somewhere between now and Christmas).
But wouldn’t it be so much easier to just go to Marks and Spencer?
Yes, the internet is a wonderful thing, and I can order almost everything.
But, when you own a European Wii, you still have to sort out ordering/buying the new Skylanders game in the UK and get it to the US.
Yes, I just need to be a bit more organised and post Christmas cards a couple of weeks earlier than I normally would.
But, this year… I refer back to the above point about magically gaining a week.
Yes, Christmas isn’t about the stuff, it’s about the people, and we’re very lucky that my mother is joining us for Christmas again this year.
But, it would be so lovely to have Christmas drinks with the friends (that we miss, very much) from home.
None of these things are really vital. The truly important thing is sharing a magical Christmas with my husband and children. I know that.
But, as Christmas creeps ever closer, and I feel more and more disorganised, I find myself missing things that I had largely accepted. I find myself wishing for the ease of a Christmas where I know where to find everything that I might want or need. I find myself frustrated at the extra work required to create ‘our’ Christmas.
I understand that this is a temporary feeling, brought on in part by the (frankly ridiculous and unnecessary) need to have a perfect Christmas. I also understand that there are times, as an expat, where things just seem harder than they should be, harder than they need to be, and you just miss everything!
Really, a perfect Christmas is one where I wake up with my family around me.
All the other stuff is a bonus.