A Holiday Abroad

I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…This song has been playing repeat in my head over the last few weeks. During this time of year, I tend to be overcome with emotions. Sentiments. Guilt. Joy. Loss. Gratitude.

I have chosen a nonconventional life, always on the move, and at times I have to deal with the repercussions of that. I miss out on birthdays, holidays, weddings, monumental moments, and life altering events. I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving for 6 years and will be missing my third Christmas this season. Watching my family and friends from afar, seeing the memories captured in pictures instead of being apart of them tear me up. That’s the reality of living so far away.

That’s the compromise expats have had to make; a life divided. In pursuit of our dreams afar we must leave behind part of our soul. Our hearts are in many places and we often feel torn by our journey. We especially feel the distance the most during the holidays.

If I could wrap myself up in a bow and FedEx my jolly self, I absolutely would. Yet, the reality is I can’t go home. This is the dilemma many expats face, whether it be a time restraint or not a feasibly possible option. However, the option I do have is to make the most of it.

So, if you find yourself away from home on the holidays, I hope you make the season merry and bright. Here are some ways to make for unforgettable holiday season abroad.

Keep Traditions Alive

The one thing that gets me through the holidays is by keeping the comforts of home close. The things I like to do with my family such as baking cookies or watching Christmas films, I try to keep alive wherever I am. (Shout out to those for letting me use your oven, thank you.) There is something endearing and sacred about keeping traditions. My first year away, the holidays seemed to slip away, leaving me feel a little empty. Therefore, I urge you to continue meaningful traditions that are close to your heart. Get a baby Christmas tree. Go ice-skating and drink hot cocoa. These small acts will help you feel connected, easing the feeling of being homesick.

 But Also Start New Traditions

New beginnings call for new customs. It’s great to keep the old but equally important to create new memories. Since being away, my holidays have begun to take on a new identity. Being in an environment with people from all over the world, I have been introduced to new norms and traditions. This year I was introduced to my first Christmas cracker, an old English tradition of wearing a crown and reading jokes around the table. Another tradition I have come to love is having a good old- fashioned potluck where coworkers and friends bring in their own traditional holiday dishes. These small moments help fill the void of home while honoring the present.

Samara_Costa_Rica

 Be With Your Family

The friends you gain abroad essentially become your adopted family. Being away from home, you establish a deep connection with others who share the same journey. I know I would be lost without them. Therefore, having them by my side, especially during this time of year, means a lot. So if you find yourself away, reach out to others and create new memories.

 Make The Most Of It

If you’re going to be away for the holidays, you better make the most of it. I might have had some less than traditional holidays recently, but I’ll remember them forever. I miss home unconditionally but I am also grateful for these moments and experiences. A Thanksgiving in Costa Rica with seven dishes that all contained avocado. Priceless. A Christmas in Thailand where I rode an elephant, laid on a tiger, and watched a breathtaking beach sunset. Unforgettable. Take it all in. Exchange feelings of guilt and loss with contentment. Your spirit and love is felt no matter where you are, so enjoy the moment.

Christmas_in_Thailand

For my loved ones, I hope you know that I wish I could be with you all. “Someday soon we will all be together, if the fates allow, until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow, so have yourself a merry little Christmas now…”