Celebrating the holiday season abroad

From now until after New Years our house is décor central. The truth is that it will be a while before the house looks “normal.” Currently we’re in Halloween mode and then that will be replaced with Thanksgiving and then Christmas. I’ve always been one to decorate but now as an expat living in the Middle East I feel a greater sense of responsibility to decorate and celebrate all holidays from my home in a big way. Part of this feeling comes with the responsibility to share the same childhood experiences I loved with my daughter.

One big challenge to my plan to shower my daughter with holiday love is that when you live overseas it’s difficult to get some of the things that are so readily available back home. When you find such items you must snatch them up and expect to pay a hefty price. For example, I just returned from the store and bought the following items:

2 small to medium pumpkins- $75
1 large turkey- $100
Pumpkin pie cans- $15 each

I know you’re probably wondering why I got the turkey and pumpkin pie stuff now since we’re a month out from Thanksgiving. I got them because I saw them and I may not see them again before Thanksgiving. I needed to stock up and be ready for the upcoming holiday. And yes, the prices are VERY steep but other items are cheaper than in the States. At the end of the year I feel that I still come out ahead and I’ve created a memorable experience for my daughter, one that reminds my husband and I of home.

Ready to celebrate Halloween in Saudi!

Ready to celebrate Halloween in Saudi!

I also love incorporating things from where we live now into our holiday celebrations. You know, “when in Rome!” Our community is full of so many talented people that pull their creative abilities together for some really festive holiday craft fairs. When we do move back to the States we will come with some pretty awesome holiday décor!

However you celebrate it’s important to have fun with it no matter where you live. I love incorporating our heritage into how we do things while also being open to learning about the local culture. For me, these aspects are what makes living overseas such an experience and adventure.

Do you live away from the place you call “home?” How do you take this into account when celebrating holidays?

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One thought on “Celebrating the holiday season abroad

  1. Ember Leigh says:

    Excellent post. Celebrating holidays abroad is such a unique experience, and while it sometimes lacks certain things (i.e. the rest of my family!), it brings around other things in abundance. For example, last year I lived in Valparaiso, Chile, and celebrated both Thanksgiving and Christmas there. The Thanksgiving celebration turned into an ENORMOUS potluck for me and my friends there, but almost none of them were American. So it ended up being a delightful intercultural celebration, but with lots of back-home food essentials based on my family tradition (like green bean casserole and corn casserole, etc!).

    Christmas too I spent there, again in the company of friends. Even though it was high summer there, it still maintained that unmistakable element of Christmas. It must have been the laziness and all the snuggling that occurred…oh, and the eating! But more than that, the good company.

    This year, my holidays will be spent from a new home base, which is Peru…and I’m just hoping to move into our new place by Thanksgiving, and that it has an oven! You’re right, finding those ‘basics’ is REALLY hard abroad, and you can’t always count on things being at a market from one visit to the next. I recently saw some pumpkins at a supermarket in Lima and I wanted to buy them all up!

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I really identify with the need to preserve the holidays abroad, whether for oneself or children or otherwise. Before being an ex-pat, I never realized the importance of holidays in the cultural fabric of my identity…but now, I recognize that it’s really important for me, and also REALLY FUN!

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