Every year around this time, I dust off a CD of Christmas songs and play it – pretty much non-stop – in the car. Yesterday, after hearing Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas” once too often, my teenaged son rolled his eyes and asked, “Why are such a lot of Christmas songs so depressing?”
It’s not something I’ve really thought about before, but he’s right. “Blue Christmas”,“All alone on Christmas”, “Last Christmas” – they all tell the same sad story of being forlorn and loveless while everyone else is whooping it up at parties and wearing plastic antlers around the office.
And although I’m not forlorn and loveless, I admit that these are not the songs an expat should be listening to when family and best friends are on the other side of the ocean. No wonder I’ve found Christmas less than inspiring for the last few years, if this has been my playlist of choice.
It’s a fact of expat life that you’re not always able to be with loved ones at the moments when you should be with them. but at least there are plenty of ways to stay in touch, with email, Facebook, Skype, and so on. So many options, in fact, that sending holiday cards in early December seems almost superfluous.
Nevertheless, many of you reading this today will be staying put in your adopted countries, wishing you could be with the folks for Christmas or Hanukkah.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas (if only in my dreams)
We are here to reassure you that spending time away from the relatives isn’t such a bad thing.
For one thing, it’s impossible to argue with relatives when they’re not there. Instead, you can fondly imagine the scene at home – chestnuts roasting, carol singers outside – and ignore the probability that what is actually occurring is a fight over the remote control, a mountain of dishes piling up in the sink, and Uncle Earnest asleep in the comfiest chair, his false teeth slowly obeying the force of gravity and sliding from his gaping mouth.
Keep that picture in mind next time you feel homesick this month.
Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire – or, Home Is Where The Hearth Is
But if you’re still feeling homesick, we at TDN are here to help.
Our December theme revolves around the winter holidays, plus a look back at the year that’s gone by. You can look forward to a recap of our favorite expat books of the year (plus some new ones), our favorite TDN moments, and, during the critical time at the end of the month, The Twelve Nomads of Christmas.
We hope that you enjoy this special month with us!
And now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to make a more cheerful Christmas mix tape.
STAY TUNED…for Monday’s interview with Free The Children’s Robin Wiszowaty
Although I love much of Christmas spent with family in the US, there is one thing I really do not mind missing this year while staying put in Moldova, where I live right now: Being swept up in the awful consumerism of the holidays in the US and the mad dash to find presents for everyone at the last minute because we usually arrive very shortly before the holidays and have had no time to be more efficient about it.
I hear you. I do, really. One year, I’d quite like to forget about Christmas on a beach somewhere – but can’t say too much now because that’s the subject of a post later in the month!
Going home for Xmas. Almost didn’t for a few reasons but decided “Eff it” and will head home for a couple of weeks.
Well, good for you! And your hometown must be a great place to spend Christmas. Another place on my Xmas location wish list…
It’s not too bad. Thanks. 🙂 Staying for shorter than last time so that my family doesn’t drive me too nuts. 😐
Hehehe you are so right about the depressing theme. Then again we have the classics like Slade’s ‘I wish it could be xmas everyday’. (Was that Slade?) Then there’s Chris Rea’s ditty about ‘Going home for xmas’. My memory is shot but I’ll blame the meds making me foggy.
Actually, both those are on the same CD! Also Wizzard. The Gary Glitter one is very cheerful too, but of course you can’t mention his name in polite society any more, much less burn his songs onto a CD from iTunes.
Wizzard did ‘I wish it could be Xmas’ and Slade did ‘Merry Xmas everybody’. Glam rock Xmas songs….all the same 🙂
Strangely, being an expat in the UK and Japan taught me that as long as I could be flexible about Christmas traditions, I could celebrate the holidays anywhere — whether in a Vietnamese bar decked out in tinsel listening to a local band sing ““We weesh you a merry Chreestmas,” or in the UK watching the Queen on telly, stuffing myself with Christmas pudding slathered with brandy sauce & fresh cream.
It did take me several years, though, to develop that flexibility. During that time, I also gave up celebrating Thanksgiving as it was too much like hard work! (I didn’t live in an American expat community.)
Now that I’m back in the U.S., I find myself nostalgic at this time of year for my UK Christmases (in my view, no one celebrates it better than the Brits) and for my exotic Christmas travels, usually into Southeast Asia, during my Tokyo expat days. Go figure! As for Thanksgiving, I love it! For me it’s the best American holiday and one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about repatriating…