It’s the time of the year again, the holiday season, and I thought we share a little bit about what the holidays are like for us living abroad.
The first thing we need you to know is that there no sharper reminder that we are not in Kansas anymore than when you start celebrating the holidays. For example, when our friends and family are back home and eagerly (in most cases) looking forward to getting together for Thanksgiving and being able to take off Black Friday, we have to work…. both days. Instead of the usual gathering of family, watching the Cowboys play (and lose, lately), and inevitable food coma that follows, we go to work. You catch updates on Facebook about how your friends and family are enjoying all the traditions that you used to enjoy. We don’t get caught up in the chaos that is holiday shopping. We miss all of it… a lot… a whole lot. It’s these times that make you feel the most disconnected. Derek actually ended up spending this Thanksgiving in Edinburgh while Libby was at home in Send. It does really hammer home how different living here is for us. We literally saw no one from our family on Thanksgiving.
However, we do find ways to cope. In many ways, the expat community becomes your surrogate home. The Americans, both from our company and the client, got together for Thanksgiving meal on the Saturday after. We did our best to recreate the experience for ourselves. We had a pot luck dinner at one of our co-worker’s house, and each person brought a dish that they grew up eating for thanksgiving. There were about 20 of us who sat down and ate dinner, play games, and watch a football game we had recorded from 2 nights previously. It was really so much fun! We made mulled wine and had turkey cooked several ways as well as queso (as a side note, it should not be underestimated how much queso makes you feel at home. Anytime an American goes back home, they stockpile Velveeta and Rotel. It’s treated with the same reverence as a 20-year old scotch, and brought out on special occasions). It’s not quite the same as being home, but it’s an approximation.
The rest of our time has been a whirlwind! Libby finally finished her project (it turned out great!). At work, Derek must have been to a half-dozen Christmas lunches and turned down invitations to at least as many more. We have discovered a mutual love of mince pies, and an equal abhorrence of Christmas pudding. We have enjoyed walking around Guildford with the Christmas lights on.
We’ve been having a great time with all the Christmas dinners too! This week alone, we’ve had three nights of getting together with our friends for dinner. It’s been so fun learning about what their traditions are for Christmas. We’ve learned about Father Christmas and how instead of leaving milk, it’s more traditional to leave a glass of sherry or wine. Caroling is alive and well here in Britain, and everywhere there are concerts. We do still love this time of year very much.
Most of all, we’re so excited to go home to see our friends and family! Six thousand miles, five cities, four celebrations, three states, two weeks, and a partridge in a pear tree… it’s going to be exhausting, but we’re eagerly looking forward to it! Thank you so much to everyone back home for being so accommodating in your schedules. We want to see everyone we possibly can, and we’re grateful for your flexibility.
Happy Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you!