Holidays Abroad

December 23, 2010

in Christmas, family, friends, homesickness

I’m not going to lie.

It’s been a little hard getting in the Christmas spirit since I came back from my trip home. While I feel fortunate to have seen family and friends, I think getting a taste of home is making it hard to adapt to a “new” kind of Christmas.

I’m a lot like everyone else in that Christmas is my favorite holiday. My birthday also falls in early December, so the

Christmastime last year in PA with one of my best friends.

entire month is festive, full of too much cake and fun. My family Christmas celebration is small, with friends playing a bigger role than extended relations. My mom held a Christmas party for a few years, and it was like extra sprinkles on the Christmas butter cookies–that many more people and gifts and eating and laughter.

Each year since I can remember, my mom and I have made cookies, usually butter, peanut butter and Russian tea cakes. It always went the same–we’d mix the ingredients, I’d eat too much of the dough and by the time the little green Christmas trees and powdery round confections were out of the oven, I’d be too stuffed to try them. It’s a wonder I never got salmonella.

Watching “A Christmas Story” and “A Christmas Carol” became annual events, and in my old home town, we’d drive to a house that always boasted extravagant decorations with cartoon characters decked out for the season. We’d watch the weather forecasts in anticipation of white Christmases that normally never came. We’d guzzle wine and eggnog (which I happen to like), and I’d order five too many lattes mixed with wintry flavors from local coffee chains.

It was always cold, something I never realized I loved until I came to a place where many people spend Christmas day on the beach. There’s something about the way the air smells when it’s so cold it could snow, and the way it makes you feel inside as you rush indoors from Christmas shopping to get warm with a cup of cocoa.

You take all these things for granted until one year, you can’t experience them. I’ve been trying hard to make it feel like

Baking Christmas cookies with a new friend in Oz.

Christmas around these parts. There’s No Place Like Oz and I baked Christmas cookies, and Brendan and I strolled the streets of our suburb to see the scant Christmas lights on the houses and went downtown to find more decorations. I ate a picnic lunch with Brooke from Brooke vs. the World and Steph from Twenty-Something Travel yesterday in theBotanic Gardens, the three of us Americans abroad for the holidays.

I had a moment last night, though, when Brendan and I went to two video stores and couldn’t find a single “real” Christmas movie. No “A Christmas Story.” No “A Christmas Carol.” No “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Brendan suggested other options, but I said I needed to leave the store, something he later said he noticed by the look on my face. He gave me a Christmas Eve Eve miracle by finding and downloading “A Christmas Story” on iTunes while I made some more cookies.

Tonight, we’ll have Christmas Eve dinner with some fellow expats who’ve become dear friends. Tomorrow, it’s Bondi Beach, a locale I remember seeing on the news last year when I was still at home, curled up on my mom’s couch on Christmas morning with the wind rattling the windows.

It’s definitely Christmas time. It just feels different.

7 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Life That Broke » Holidays Abroad: Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All? --

  2. Heather

    Thank you for helping me feel a bit of Christmas with the cookie baking — I really enjoyed getting together after your trip home!!

    Enjoy the beach tomorrow and MERRY CHRISTMAS <3 See you in 2011 — Bollywood class for sure!

  3. Andrea

    I hope that your Christmas was merry and bright!! The house with the cartoon characters that you used to go to, was that in Sky Manor? If so, or if not, you really made me wish that I was back east to walk through my old hood with a cup of Wawa coffee looking at lights.
    Christmas in Oregon doesn’t have that “feeling” of Christmas either. It is raining here, it lacks the bite of cold that we’re so used to. At least I have my traditions to finally make it feel like Christmas…
    Happy Merry and I hope you enjoyed your time at the beach!!

  4. Lauren Post author

    Thanks ladies! Heather, I know you know how I feel.

    Andrea, cheers for the comment. I believe the house was off of Van Zile road on the “other side” of Brick. I remember Sky Manor, but can’t place where in town that is.

    Sorry Christmas in Oregon isn’t as Christmasey as what we’re used to. I send you snowy, old fashioned holiday memories and love from Oz.

  5. Megan

    I totally agree with you about cold weather and Christmas. It just goes together in my mind. You were missed, but it was so great to get to see you for a little bit. I hope I get to see you next year, too! Love the pic 🙂

  6. Suzy

    I can completely relate. One Thanksgiving, I couldn’t go home. I was in Sicily of all places, where Thanksgiving isn’t a big deal. It was the only time I was actually homesick. It sounds like you adapted well though, but I agree. We take for granted those little things that make the holidays at home so special.

  7. Lauren Post author

    Thanks, Megs! I missed you heaps. I hope next year if I’m still here, I can make it back.

    Hi Suzy—thanks for the comment. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I forgot most other places don’t celebrate. Glad you were able to get through it and haven’t been homesick again!


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