Ever since we started spending half the year in New Zealand and half in Canada, we have spent Christmas far away from our family. Much of it feels wrong. I am not a big fan of snow but like many others feel that it is essential to have snow in December like the scenes in typical Christmas cards. Then there are the lights on the houses in Canada which look so good when darkness comes early. Food is also associated with the season. Turkey with all the trimmings and hot dishes work well in a cold climate but not so well in summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
So I miss all the trappings of the season and I miss the the interaction with my kids and grandkids when other people around me talking about dinner with their families. Three years ago, we went to a hotel on the 25th with three other friends who didn’t have family to celebrate with. It was a good plan and we decided to continue the plan. We changed hotels for the next year and went back again this 25th. We had a fine buffet meal with wine and crackers and decorations on the table. Of course, we all ate far too much. You have to try all the meats and sample each of the desserts when three are available! We came home and took a long nap.
It does feel strange not to worry about buying and cooking a turkey but eating one would be a mammoth task for two people. At the most, I’d get a chicken or a small ham. And eating out means we are without leftovers. Turkey sandwiches on the days after the 25th used to be a feature of the season. Back home when I had the family for Christmas, I’d send them off home with turkey parcels.
The biggest problem for me is not the absence of traditional food and the trimmings of the season but the emotion. I miss my family when I’m in New Zealand but the feeling of dislocation troubles me most at Christmas. This year it was worse than usual, maybe because our daughter had visited us recently. I tried listening to some comedy and that did help a little. In 2019, I will try to be more proactive about removing the clouds of sadness. I am not sure how right now but I do have a whole year to decide on my strategy. Of course, these feelings are shared by thousands of ex-Pats and I know there are many New Zealanders trudging through cold snow under a grey sky and wishing they were walking on golden sand under a bright sun.
I need a new topic for next week and will choose a more positive one.