Has your idea of the holiday season changed since becoming an expat?
It was really interesting to experience Christmas in Australia last year. And this year, we will be here until Dec. 24... so I basically will have two Aussie Christmases under my belt. There are a lot of things I observed from being able to compare the way a big holiday like Christmas is celebrated in two different places. But what stands out most is that for what I'm sure is a multitude of reasons, Christmas is very very VERY North American-ized/ European-ized. I mean sure Australia has their fair share of Santa's depicted in board shorts surfing, but even still, the majority of the images/ideas surrounding Christmas are still very "western." They still sing Jingle Bells and Let It Snow... you see snowmen in the stores... kids read books about Santa coming down the chimney, etc. Guys, it is SUMMER here. Most people in Australia have never seen snow, you would have to be crazy to have a fireplace here, pine trees do not exist here, and hot chocolate? No way! It is just so strange to me. But it also makes me realize how powerful the images and ideas that North America and Europe project about something like a holiday (among other things) really are. Sure, people here do have their own Christmas traditions that are better suited to their weather and lifestyles (grilling and hanging out at the pool or beach with a cold beer), but it almost makes me a little sad... that "our" culture has to be so overwhelming even on the other side of the world.
How do you build new holiday traditions, while keeping ones that remind you of “home”?
Last year was the first Christmas away from home for both David and I. It was hard for both of us, although probably a little more for me since Christmas isn't AS big of a deal in his family. I knew I would be sad to be so far away, so last year I made sure that we made our house feel as Christmas-y as possible. We bought a fake tree and decorated it, put up lights, I made a big Christmas Eve dinner, and we had stockings and presents on Christmas morning followed by a big breakfast. Doing these things definitely helped make being so far away a little easier. It was also fun to incorporate some new traditions. On Boxing Day last year (Dec. 26), we spent that day at the beach. Now THAT is something I can definitely get on board with and would love to be able to make that a Christmas tradition. Aussies also do a lot of vacationing around Christmas time since this is their summer and the long break from school for the kids. So we also took part in that tradition and traveled to Melbourne just a few days after Christmas. Again, I could totally partake in a post-Christmas vacay each year!
|Decorating our tree in shorts, bare feet, and tank top/short sleeves|