If you’re living overseas and will not be able to get home for Christmas, the festive period can be a very difficult time and you may find that you really miss your friends and family or grow nostalgic about the things that you are missing out on. Christmas is a very important time for many expatriates and constitutes a period of the year where our own culture may strongly conflict with that of the host country, especially if you are living in a country where Christmas has no real meaning. If this is the case for you this year, don’t get down in the mouth. Being away from home for Xmas doesn’t mean that you don’t have to celebrate it. Here are some ideas for beating the Christmas blues and having a holiday to remember.
Christmas is generally a time of the year where your diet goes out of the window and you get tucking in to your favorite foods. While many of your festive favorites may not be available in your host country there’s nothing to stop you importing them! Make a list of some of the things that you may miss this holiday season and get in touch with someone back home and ask them to send them to you. Having some familiar favorites on hand will certainly help you to get that great Christmas feeling.
Get some Christmas music on the stereo, a nice home-cooked meal in the oven and set aside a couple of hours to put up some Christmas decorations. It may not feel particularly Christmassy outside but having special decorations at home will certainly make it feel like a special time of year. The majority of expatriate destinations will have some type of Christmas tree on sale somewhere, even if it is plastic and, in the worse case scenario you can always decorate a large plant with beautiful fairy lights.
A major part of Christmas is gift-giving and just because you live amongst between people who do not celebrate Christmas this doesn’t necessarily need to be omitted. Try and organize a secret-Santa type gift exchange between friends or work colleagues. It will give you something to look forward to and will inject a bit of the holiday-spirit into everyday life.
So you may not be able to spend the day with close family and friends tucking into Christmas dinner and playing festive games. But you can create a Christmas that will be memorable by doing something completely different. If there’s a restaurant that you have wanted to visit for a long time or an excursion you hoped to do, go out and do it. Spare no expense and treat yourself! That way you’ll have fond memories of this year’s Christmas because it was different, and not the same thing you have done every year since you were young. Sometimes creating something new, instead of trying to recreate something old, is the way forward.
If Christmas won’t come to you then you’ll just have to bring it to others. Consider organizing a Christmas party. Put up holiday decorations and serve some of the food that you would eat at home to your guests. Go all out and share your traditions with your friends. Even if they don’t celebrate Christmas themselves they will probably be delighted to share yours and learn about some of the things that you would typically do during this festive period.
Once you have decorated your home, get yourself a glass of mulled wine or eggnog and watch some Christmas films. If you are feeling slightly homesick, a few hours watching a movie will give you time to regroup and focus your energies.
Christmas abroad can be what you want it to be. You can either make the most of what you have and try to embrace a new type of holiday spirit, or you can dwell on what you are missing out on back home and feel sorry for yourself: the decision is yours.
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