To be honest, I’m finding thinking about Christmas a little overwhelming this year. I’ve always found it a little tricky. To add to the chaos, I’m adding in trying to use less plastic. And that just makes it feel like there are even more choices and decisions to be made. About which things we can reasonably cut down on – wrapping paper, crackers, bottles of nice shampoo, tinsel, baubles… – without losing “Christmas” altogether. And then it feels like a very first world problem to have. So I’m starting to investigate how I can treat Christmas differently, how I can change the way I approach it.
Christmas in re-entry
Experiencing Christmas for the first time during your re-entry can be pretty daunting. You may have been in a culture where Christmas is not celebrated and you’ve been able to create your own traditions entirely the way you wanted. Perhaps you have celebrated with many other expats all away from home. Or maybe your Christmases have been lonely, full of homesickness, longing nostalgically for times gone by.
Whatever your experience of Christmas in the past, re-entry throws a different light on it again. What will you do? Who does your culture / family dictate it should be spent with? Will there be snow? What expectations are there? How do you make Christmas meaningful for you? What is important for you? Which day do you celebrate on? What is non-negotiable?
There are tons of expectations that hover at Christmastime. We all have our own ways of celebrating holidays. Everyone has set ideas of how they want it to be and who should be there. See my blog from last year on how to stay sane.
My encouragement to you in re-entry would be to treat it as an experiment. You have years to get this right, to adjust things to how you would ideally like it to be. Go with it this year – perhaps try some new things, try out different traditions belonging to the families you need to be part of. Don’t stipulate how you want it to be. Try out the traditions of those around you. Much as you probably did your first couple of Christmases abroad.
Treat it as an exploration, an adventure. Have a go at some different traditions, foods and ways of celebrating. If you don’t like / enjoy them, you can change them next year, try something different, or propose something else to the extended family.
Go on, experiment…
How could you approach Christmas differently this year? What mindset could you adopt to be more experimental, adventurous and open? Which expectations or hopes could you drop, temporarily, as part of the experiment?
12th December 2018