Expat Christmas: Celebrating The Holidays Far From Home

After a recent move from Seattle to Singapore I'm finding that living abroad can offer freedom from the usual trappings of holiday traditions. I'm released from familial obligations and predictable schedules. But the holiday season can bring out the traditionalist, and sentimentalist, in a person. There may be a tendency to cling to specific customs while dealing with the reality of a very different living situation. I find myself wanting to adhere to familiar traditions that I've worked so hard to preserve and maintain back home — yet I'm curious about the traditions of my new culture. Luckily for me, Christmas is widely celebrated here with over-the-top public decorations and festivities. I've been able to carry on with my traditional photos with Santa (in shorts and t-shirts), holiday parties (cold drinks, not hot) and listening to carolers sing traditional songs (while wearing sunblock). I decorate with “rice lights” and I'm considering adopting an annual Christmas morning dip in the ocean. One thing I’ve insisted upon having is a live Christmas tree — even if it’s a bit more expensive. The sight and scent brings my whole family a feeling of familiarity and comfort — much more that we expected.

Many people find themselves at one point or another away from the familiar celebrations of home. Whether it's across the country or outside the country. We go to school, move, change jobs and sometimes these life changes prohibit us from going “home” for the holidays. Finding a little bit of familiarity no matter where you are can sometimes be challenging. Some traditions we cling to like a life preserver, others we can’t wait to get rid of.

What objects, or traditions, do you find yourself replicating no matter where you are?

Image: Flickr user Shandi-Lee as licensed by Creative Commons

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