I used to be pretty darn ambivalent about Christmas here and abroad. Sure, it’s a cool holiday where everyone is weirdly a little nicer than usual, but I was always a Birthday girl, and loved spoiling everyone I loved on their Birthday. It’s a little more special, y’know.
Well, all that changed when I decided to become an expat. Whenever a life change is made, you know that you’ll change in many ways, but sometimes it’s the little changes that surprise you the most. Maybe it’s the cold – and sometimes snow (it’s normally 30 degrees Celcius in New Zealand on Christmas Day and not raining if you’re lucky), maybe it’s the Christmas cake, possibly the Holly and the Ivy draped over store lintels, maybe it’s hearing the Robins chirruping in the garden, I don’t know.
But, as time has gone by I’ve discovered an inner festive-elf that delights in fairy-lights, delves into the Christmas decoration box as soon as humanly possible (I’m usually only allowed to start putting them up on the 1st of December by my Grinch) and revel in the new and old traditions that we’ve established over the years.
– Discuss Argue about the colour scheme for decorating the tree and have complex discussions about how well we felt the last few years went!
– Hauling a Christmas Tree on public transport. This is a task generally carried out by the lovely Mr Kiwi as we don’t have a car, but is always rewarded with warm Christmas Mince Pies and the look of delight on my face (so I’m told).
– Decorating said tree with all the ornaments we’ve collected over the years, usually accompanied by mulled cider and reminiscing about the escapades usually involved with getting them.
– Promise myself I’ll participate in ‘Stir Up Sunday’, the day in November that Christmas cakes are traditionally made then fed whiskey until Christmas, before realising the date has already passed.
– Many, many nights with friends and family celebrating a little too much…
– Keeping the cat away from the dangling temptations that are shiny, low hanging baubles.
– Spread a little festive cheer to those less fortunate in any small way I can.
– Write our Christmas Cards and deciding whether to go with a British or Kiwi set that year.
– Moaning about all of the pine needles from the Christmas Tree that end up on the carpet despite assurances from the salesmen that there won’t be any. Every year.
– Listen to Christmas Carols ad nauseum whilst trying to restrict the number of Mud and Slade carols Mr Kiwi delights in playing.
– Make Jaffa Slice & try to resist the siren call whilst it sits in the fridge.
– Give into that siren call and feel guilty before going ‘oh, well, it’s Christmas!’.
– Squeal every single time I discover a Christmas Card on our doorstep whilst internally feeling naughty about the recycling.
– Treasure how lucky we all are in so many ways.
– Decide whether Christmas Day will be a dress-up delicious dinner with family, or a PJ day at home watching all the Christmas specials on TV (often moaning about them…. If the former, ask if I can wear my Christmas Jumper.
– Take private bets on whether it will be a white Christmas, and muse on the fact that even though New Zealand Christmases are in Summer we still often have snow scenes on our cards.
– Go to a festive afternoon tea – one year I even threw my own as a special treat.
– Lengthy Skype calls with my family on Christmas Eve and opening a present (because most things – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas Day – last 36 hours when you’re an expat from the other side of the world)
– Laugh guiltily at the terrible Christmas cracker jokes.
– Giggle on Christmas day whilst we watch our family drown their Turkey in gravy because they actually don’t like it. Snicker at pigs in blankets. Eat too many canapes. Be undecided as to Christmas Pudding or my Sister-in-laws aMAzing pavlova.
– Add a new tradition every year – this year it was being invited by some of my kind American friends to a couple of expat Thanksgivings. Such an epic holiday!
London celebrates Christmas and the festive season wonderfully. December, in England’s capital, is encrusted with beautiful
street light displays, pine bough covered store fronts, carollers echoing on train station platforms and the smell of mulled wine seductively wafting from open pub doors full of chatter. Maybe that was the secret.
Ps. we brainstormed a few extra ideas if you’re a little stuck –
Your favourite Local traditions vs. your favourite Home traditions
Adopting xxxxx (Thanksgiving) as a xxxxx (Kiwi)
Best Christmas Present
Worst Christmas (if the parent’s don’t read your blog)
Must do list in xxxxx
Favourite Christmas food