EXPAT LIFE: I won’t be wishing for a White Christmas this year – just a cool one. Unbelievably, for the first time since we moved here to the USA, we will be having an expat family Christmas in Australia.
Yep, that’s right: a hot, sunny Christmas, where the temperatures can go so high Santa has to wear shorts and a t-shirt, and traditional Australian footwear we know as flip-flops (called ‘thongs’ in Aussie-speak). A place where you are woken early by the chorus of squawking birds before your alarm goes off during summer in December. Goodness only knows how I will handle the heat and 40C temperatures if it’s anything like a normal Christmas Day. I’m praying already for something more atypical like a glacial 22-25C. With global warming these days, that wish no longer sounds as crazy as it once might have – anything is possible.
Getting back to Australia during school holidays over Christmas, is not that easy when your kids attend public schools here. As the school summer break is so long in NJ (often 10-12 weeks), the other holiday periods are much shorter, so we will have only 6 days on the ground in Sydney.
One of the least appealing aspects is the trip itself, which is around a 30 hour trip from door-to-door, each way. We will be back in NJ by the New Year, with barely enough time to get too accustomed to Australian time but possibly a wee bit jetlagged.
While I am looking forward to catching up with my mum, and some family and friends, it definitely feels kind of strange to be going home at this time of the year. Having a hot Christmas with cold foods may even feel novel for the first time, after a number of cold winters here.
Regardless of where I am at Christmas though, it is hard not to do the ‘another year gone’ evaluation of life that comes just before the New Year starts. At this time, I find it hard not to muse over our expat life, the decisions we made in coming here, and specifically how our kids have grown and changed since we moved to New Jersey. Back then, we guessed this move was going to be a couple of years’ duration, but it has now flourished into a five year stint, and could still be a few years longer at that.
It is an interesting exercise to look back and review how your expat family lives have gone. Things have changed direction, in ways we could never have predicted. Part of me is sad at seeing our kids growing up, passing those stages we will never revisit again, and all the while doing it in another country, where my parents and friends do not have the benefit of watching them grow, as I may have hoped once.
At times like Christmas, or other celebrations, like many expats initially we had to get used to being by ourselves much more than ever back home, so early on these times have been a bit lonely. However, the counter side of this has been spending most of our time together as a family, some of it at home, and some travelling around the USA and Canada, to see everything we can, before we move on somewhere else. One definite plus of expat life is that this time together is one that I have fond memories of here, and the way it brings you closer as a family.
We have also had the privilege of making some great friends here, who we often spend time with on these major occasions, like we would have with family at home. This year, we will miss them while we visit our ‘other’ family but know in our hearts how blessed we are to have families and traditions we treasure from both countries that we call home.
Wherever you are this Christmas, may it be a peaceful and enjoyable time spent with those that you love. Good Cheer to all!
This post has been part of an expat blog link up called: My Expat Family. A linky for expat family/parent bloggers to share stories of family life as an expat.