Cue the music. Sing it with me.
“Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams”
What a sad, sad song. “If only in my dreams?” This guy spends the whole song building up the joy and jubilation, which is the magical connection between two foundationally emotional concepts — Christmas and Home — only to finish with, “yeah, probably not gonna’ make it . . . but I’ll be thinkin’ of ya'”
He is obviously one of two things: An absolute jerk . . . or an expat.
It makes sense for those of us living a life overseas doesn’t it? Christmas can be hard when you are oceans away dreaming of everything that you connected with in your formative years.
I’d be lying though . . . if I said there weren’t some things that I love about Christmas abroad. Don’t get me wrong . . .
I miss my family.
I’d love to be home.
But . . .
Here are Ten things I love about Christmas far away:
ONE: It’s a one stop Christmas
I’m sticking my neck out here so I’m gonna’ need an “amen” from an expat who gets me.
Bouncing between my side of the family and her side, trying to hit everyone who matters and several who don’t, scheduling around the mayhem of other people’s busyness and stressing for weeks in the hopes to connect with every inlaw, outlaw, cousin, nephew, niece and new boyfriend MAY be worth it in the end.
BUT — I for one enjoy noticeably less chaos on this side of the world.
TWO: Stores are open
This is significant for a chronic procrastinator like myself. There is nothing as sobering as the realization that your gift options have been reduced to the VERY BEST from the beef jerky section of the 24-7-365 truck stop because it is the ONLY place open at 11pm on December 24th.
That will never be an issue where I live.
THREE: Reduced Christmas politics
I can’t even keep it straight anymore. If I say “Merry Christmas” it means I hate Muslims but if I say “Happy Holidays” it means I quit loving Jesus?
Something like that.
I love being in a place that doesn’t get quite so offended by my attempts to spread good cheer.
FOUR: Extended Holiday
This one is region specific to be sure but I think I’ve landed the perfect gig. We get two days off for American Thanksgiving which kicks off the Christmas season. Then we get two weeks off for Christmas, go back to work for a couple of weeks and get TWO MORE WEEKS off for Chinese New Year.
Anyone looking for a job in education and want to move to China? Call me.
FIVE: More cookies for me
I happened to marry the best cookie maker on the planet (no offense to all other earth residing cookie makers). Living abroad has significantly reduced the number of Christmas parties, open houses, bake sales and “cookie exchanges” that she needs to engage in. There is still no small demand for her baked works of art but in an average December my hand gets slapped 86% less overseas.
I’ll take it.
SIX: New traditions
New traditions? Is that an oxymoron?
I love the new customs that have become a part of our family simply because we have been forced to figure it out. No life-long routine. No pre-set expectations. No safety net. That’s where creative parenting comes alive.
Don’t tell my kids we’re figuring it out as we go.
SEVEN: New traditions part 2
It’s not just MY traditions. I love that because of this beautiful life overseas I now have friends from every corner of the globe. One of the great conversations among nations is “what do you do on special days?” It brings a rich understanding of the birth of Christ to learn how the rest of the world celebrates it.
Anyone can pull off a flashing lights, tinsel strewn, jingle bell Super Holiday when you’ve got access to to the mega-Christmas wholesale mart and the 10,000 acre tree farm . . . BUT . . . try decorating for the birth of Christ inside of a Communist superpower. Then you’ll know you’ve nailed it.
Again. My wife. Amazing.
NINE: A fresh perspective on the old, old story
I thoroughly enjoy seeing the narrative of the birth of Christ outside of the narrative of my passport country. There is something rich about God becoming man accompanied by the realization that not all men think and act like I do.
I love seeing God through the lenses of people who are not like me.
TEN: Jesus is Jesus, wherever you live