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
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
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.