Far From Home: How I Celebrated Christmas Abroad

Far From Home: How I Celebrated Christmas Abroad

pink pangea foreign correspondentIt’s Christmas in Thailand, and yet it doesn’t quite feel like jolliest time of the year. Even though “Jingle Bells” and Mariah Carey’s holiday hits have been playing at shopping malls since before Thanksgiving, it still feels different. Maybe it’s because what gets me into the holiday spirit are the snow gently falling at night, the smell of fresh Douglas Firs, and twinkling Christmas decorations up and down every street. But here, there is fake snow sprayed on doors and plastic light up trees in front of movie theaters. When you’re not home for the holidays, things feel different.

Far From Home: How I Celebrated Christmas Abroad

For me, holidays are always full of memories. Some funny and warm and some a bit chaotic, and those memories are usually filled with my family and loved ones. I always think of the snow blanketing the trees outside, wearing thick sweaters and warm boots, and drinking hot cocoa with the people I love near the fireplace.

Even the tiniest slice of home can help you feel a bit less homesick and put you in the holiday spirit.

But, when you’re living abroad, somewhere very far from the snow, icicles, and your family, it’s a different kind of holiday season and you have to adjust and make different kind of memories.

It may be difficult or completely out of the question to have your family make their way to you for the holidays, and you can’t make it back home for financial, personal, or work reasons. So, when you’re not home for the holidays you have to be a bit creative and make an effort if you want to create new and different holiday memories abroad.

This Thanksgiving, my boyfriend and I were really missing turkey, stuffing, American football. So, we decided we were going to do our best to celebrate Thanksgiving in Bangkok this year – and we did. We found an American-style restaurant that was celebrating and we invited our friends ­– one British and one Thai – to come along with us. Both of our friends had never experienced Thanksgiving before and it was a fun experience for us to watch them try the food and eat until they had to unbuckle their belts.

Far From Home: How I Celebrated Christmas Abroad

It may not have been the most traditional Thanksgiving Day, but we shared our American traditions and now we have new holiday memories. We could have simply forgotten about Thanksgiving and gone on with our day, but I’m glad we didn’t. Even the tiniest slice of home can help you feel a bit less homesick and put you in the holiday spirit.

This Christmas, I won’t even be close to home this year. But, I will be making new and unforgettable memories this year ­– going on a South Africa safari. Again, this is not the most traditional way to spend the holidays and I’m fine with it.

Any way you go about your holidays this year, remember that you’ll be making memories. Maybe alone or maybe with people you care about.

After moving abroad more than two years ago because I wanted to travel, I’ve been able to make new memories that I wouldn’t have been able to do back home. Sure, if I was home this year I’d be opening presents under a freshly cut Christmas tree, maybe throwing a snowball at my brother as he gets home from work, and eating delicious corned beef (a holiday tradition in my family). But I also wouldn’t see penguins on a beach, go on safari to see the Big Five, or learn a little Afrikaans. I wouldn’t be able to make any of these new memories.

When you’re not home for the holidays, you have a few options for “celebrating” this season. You can forget about the whole thing and immerse yourself in your new country and its traditions and holidays. Or you can share your hometown traditions with your new friends abroad. Or you can take your savings and take a trip of a lifetime.

Any way you go about your holidays this year, remember that you’ll be making memories. Maybe alone or maybe with people you care about.

‘Tis the season to… well, that’s up to you.

 

 

 

 

Far From Home: How I Celebrated Christmas Abroad, Christmas Abroad

About Kaitlin Kimont

Kaitlin KimontKaitlin is based in Bangkok, Thailand currently working as a freelance writer and English teacher. She’s making her way around Southeast Asia one country at a time, all the while gaining a subconscious, perhaps conscious, addiction to MSG and Thai milk tea.

Follow her on twitter @kaitlinkimont.

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