So from the title of the post, you probably have already guessed that this will be my third Christmas abroad. Christmas is usually a time of tradition that differs from family to family. Before leaving to travel and live abroad, I almost always spent Christmas with my mom, and sometimes sister. Our tradition was making lots of treats to eat, and usually we would make a family drink called a Tom and Jerry. It’s a family recipe that my Grandad used to make with some type of hard liquor, usually whiskey. Christmas Day would consist of Mom and I listening to Christmas music on the radio while opening presents, maybe some TV, and of course, more cooking. Christmas dinner tended to be dungeness crab, which we think is the best type of crab, with some sort of side dishes. That is our Christmas tradition.
Of course I miss these traditions while traveling, but part of traveling is finding new traditions. And to be honest, it has been nice being able to spend the last three Christmases with my husband who usually spends Christmas with his family. So we are creating our own traditions for Christmas, which usually involve some kind of travel. Our first Christmas abroad was spent in Sydney, which for both of us was bizarre because we had never had Christmas in summer. And honestly, it’s a little weird to see images of Santa surfing, but it was nice being warm. Last year we were living in Dali, China, and that town had one of the weirdest Christmas traditions I have ever seen. On Christmas eve, a huge snowball fight ensues, but not with actual snow. Rather, it comes from a can and is something between silly string and shaving cream. People don rain ponchos and arm themselves with a few dozen cans of fake snow spray and go crazy. If you happen to be non-Chinese, you will get sprayed pretty bad.
And now this year we are in Japan. Christmas is a bigger deal here than it was in China. I say that because after Halloween, Christmas started. It might be because there is no Thanksgiving in between the two holidays. It has been nice to have a bit of the Christmas spirit around. I have had to teach my 3 and 4 year olds some Christmas classics like Jingle Bells, Rudolph, and Santa Clause is Coming to Town. I also got to decorate the Christmas tree at work, something I quite enjoyed. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I helped to decorate a tree because Mom usually had hers decorated by the time I showed up.
Being away for so long has really helped me appreciate things like Christmas songs and Christmas movies. There’s always a bit of overkill when home for the holidays since everywhere you go people are shopping and Christmas carols are playing everywhere. But when you are abroad, especially in China, that doesn’t happen.
So this year, as I get ready to celebrate my third Christmas away from my friends and family, I have really embraced the Christmas music, and have been indulging in some Christmas classics. Last year I revisited many old movie classics: Christmas Vacation, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, The Grinch (one of my personal all time favorites), The Muppets Christmas Carol, and Elf, which has become a Christmas movie tradition for us. This year, along with Elf, we watched Home Alone, which I hadn’t seen since it came out, and Christmas Vacation once again. We are also planning on watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and possibly a Christmas Story.
For those of you back home and abroad, I hope that you all have a wonderful time with friends and family. And, like always, my gifts will be late, because isn’t it nicer to receive a gift in January than on time? Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Have you traveled somewhere that has a very unique Christmas tradition? Where was it? And how did they celebrate?