i’m now approaching my second christmas abroad here in the czech republic. for me, being away from home for christmas isn’t such a big deal since i’m from quite a small family anyway, and a christmas of two or three people feels normal. of course i really think quite fondly about christmases spent at home on fidalgo island and how lovely the christmas season is back in the city streets of downtown seattle or the polar bear plunge at golden gardens and i know i’ll have more to look forward to in the future.
honestly, how i celebrate the holidays abroad really isn’t so different from back home in WA– especially not with my mother coming to visit in less than one week! i work hard to ensure that we do everything here that we would do at home in the U.S…… okay, actually i was trying to make it sound like it’s work, but i’m one of those overly-christmas-loving types. really, doing these things is effortless and second nature to me, such as making christmas cookies, putting up a tree, the constant christmas tunes, even the “stockings” we hung last year in our flat in mala strana. (see below) christmas doesn’t have to be a fancy and expensive affair, although this year i am opting to get a real tree– huge upgrade from the tiny one from last year. our families have been pretty wonderful with sending us little christmas treats and parcels from the states and having a little bit of american christmas cheer really makes a big difference on morale. oh peppermint bark, i look forward to you!
so this is about to get pretty cheesy, but for me, the christmas season isn’t a place…. it’s a feeling. and you can have this feeling where ever you go if you create it for yourself! you and i are both christmas. and even if you celebrate all by yourself, that is also christmas. maybe christmas to you is being with family or friends, but maybe you can find christmas in a gingerbread latte at starbucks. or a walk through old town square. i find some of the strangest holidays i’ve spent turn out to be the most memorable and beloved ones, like the time i spent midnight of new year’s 2010 quite poorly timed on a northbound seattle metro bus, which actually pulled over on 1st and bell street to get a better view of the fireworks from the space needle. (hey buddy, some of us have places to go! …. or not, i guess.)
it sure helps that celebrating christmas in europe is so dang lovely. i try to meld european christmas traditions together with american ones, whether i am abroad or at home. at home in the U.S. i like to make gluhwein and get a traditional stollen or pannettone. this christmas, i am going to serve mince-meat pies and vanočka (czech christmas bread), but will also be watching plenty of good ol’ american christmas movies (i promised alex i would watch die hard for the first time) and attending christmas concerts. also, it’s easy to adapt to european traditions when they generally celebrate christmas on the same day my family always has (dec. 24th, christmas eve).
although i won’t be serving christmas carp or anything like that, i will certainly enjoy a punč or two in the square and many christmas cookies (of which czech moms and grammas love to make by the dozens upon dozens).
so, celebrate christmas in your own memorable way, wherever you are and whomever you are with (or not with). it doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it your own.
this post is a part of the december expat Q&A. thanks for visiting! more holiday blog goodness soon forthcoming, with a blurb about my surprise day-trip to vienna.
related posts: last christmas