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Topic: First Major Holidays away from family  (Read 909 times)

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First Major Holidays away from family
« on: November 29, 2018, 03:25:40 PM »
I moved to London at the end of September with my husband. Until then we have never moved away from family (except college) but always were there for the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas.Thanksgiving was harder than I realized, I became very distant and came home and just grabbed a glass a wine and stared at a wall and the phone looking at everyone else's Thanksgiving facebook posts during the week. My husband and I had a great Thanksgiving dinner but the pain was there.
Now Christmas is coming up. My favorite holiday and one that was all about being with my family and going shopping and Christmas music and baking. London is amazing at Christmas time and I am looking forward to enjoying all the markets, skating rinks, mulled wine and the treats, but I can already feel how hard it is going to be. I teared up at a Christmas song at work the other day.
I know I will have to let myself feel the emotions. How was everyone else's first holidays here?

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Re: First Major Holidays away from family
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2018, 03:57:00 PM »
It's so tough, isn't it? This is my first holiday season actually living here. I was pretty sad on Thanksgiving but I still cooked a nice meal and watched the parades and football games online. I miss all the banter I have with my family during the holidays. But, I am also excited for all the new traditions that I'll be a part of living here in the UK. I know exactly what you mean about tearing up... The littlest things set me off at the moment and I know it's the homesickness. I just have to believe that it'll get easier for us with time. So you're definitely not alone in your feelings. Hugs!
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Re: First Major Holidays away from family
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2018, 04:53:41 PM »
To say I was struggling last week would be a massive understatement. I still am, and have been. I'd been hoping to get home in the fall this year and it just didn't happen because I lost my job and I was too sick to fly. I moved here the week of Christmas last year so I'd call these my first holidays away. None of my family reached out to me. The ones I called were happy to hear from me but too busy to talk. And I haven't been able to eat more than a half cup of food at a time for a month so I skipped the local expat thanksgiving because its hard enough to cook dinner for my husband, take my meager portion, and watch him eat everything that would usually be on my plate. I couldn't do a full gathering of that. I did pass my drivers test so at least I had something to be thankful for.

I think I would recommend scheduling video calls with family. I'm going to try that for Xmas. I don't know if it will work with my family, but if you're close to yours you will probably have more luck.

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Re: First Major Holidays away from family
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2018, 05:29:14 PM »
I'm not into holidays and never have been.  The first few years were unexpectedly difficult because I just thought that I'd cruise through being my usual non-celebratory self.  Thanksgiving and 4th July are the most difficult for me.  Christmas we alternate with our families so we always celebrate that in some way.

For Thanksgiving, after a particular difficult and tear filled one where I sat on the kitchen floor and cried a decade ago, my husband organised what became an annual dinner party.  We started celebrating on Thursday evening but that got too difficult for friends so now we celebrate on Friday.  My husband and I both take off work and there's a core group of friends who are invited every year with a few that rotate out.  It's a big deal in our circle, though I'm suspicious that husband had something to do with that.  Friend's holidays are planned around it and short of them or their children being in A&E, they come, some driving 90 minutes each way on Friday evening.  This year we had a 3 week old baby and we've had a new father (child was 5 days old) there even though his wife was still recovering in hospital.

My husband and I cook all day on Friday.  We have between 6 and 14 people depending on the year.  We have my menu - no matter how weird it is (pumpkin pie is a bit of a freak thing to newbies joining in!).  We do Thanksgiving Trivia, draw hand turkeys, and sometimes play Pin the Waddle on the Turkey.  Oh yay!  It's amazing! 

It may not be the same, but I highly recommend trying, where possible, to make holidays your own.  I find Thanksgiving to be an easy one because it's not one celebrated here so there's no expectations as to what happens and Brits don't have family they need to celebrate with like they might for Easter or Christmas.  I've not found a way to celebrate 4th July.  I don't generally go home, it's too hot in Atlanta there for me.  For Halloween my husband brings me a pumpkin to carve and we do that together.  Nothing is the same as it was.  But it's made to be ours.  What can you do, or ask your partner to take on if you're too down, to make holidays that mean something to you work for you?

How will you be spending Christmas?  With your partner's family if not with yours?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 05:42:46 PM by Larissa »

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Re: First Major Holidays away from family
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 08:11:54 PM »
You know, it's at the holidays that I am most aware that I do not "belong" to this culture. 

I've never been much of a "holidays" person - for years I worked jobs that were in 24/7 industries so, more often than not, I worked on holidays as if they were any other day (except for the double-time pay). I also lived for a very large part of my life in the Southwestern USA, a place were cities are spaced very widely. To have gone "home" for Christmas, for example, would have at one time meant a 2-day drive, doing 14 hours at 65mph for both days, just to get there. Assuming the weather cooperated. And that was before cell phones, so there was some risk involved in driving through that much lonely countryside alone in winter. And my family was  not close - we actually used to try to find reasons to not go home to our parents' house. If we couldn't get out of it, we'd go, but then go out to "visit friends" for as much time as we could manage, just to not be there at the house.  So, no, I've never been a big "holiday" person in that respect, the "family" thing.

Even in the States, though, at the winter holidays I would feel a bit sad. I tend to spend a lot of time reminiscing about my childhood at this time of year, (and the past in general) and how none of the places I knew as a kiddie are still in existence, and almost all of the people are gone now, too.  But, as that saying goes, you can never go home anymore.  People have always told me that the older I'd get, the less that stuff would matter. Hasn't worked that way for me, really.

So now Scotland is home. But we culturally don't belong here. There are a lot of similarities between here and where I grew up (which was settled by the Scots-Irish, primarily). Which helps. And everyone has been wonderful and welcoming, but we really don't have the same set of referents. The Christmas Insanity here is a different flavor of Insanity than it was in the States.  I've enjoyed seeing the new things, trying the new tastes, going to the new places to watch the new things (torchlight parades are cool!). But at the same time I miss a bit of how things were when we were in the USA. We would start our Holidays on Halloween - seriously, you could see our house from space. And it was fair game to start decorating for Halloween on October 15.  And that flowed into Thanksgiving, when we would have friends over, and then do the epic Black Friday raids (all planned out carefully at least a week in advance). And then on into the "usual" Christmas stuff. Getting into the car in the evenings and getting cocoa at the drive through then driving around looking at all the decorated houses.  Going to the same mall every year to see if they managed to get the mangey Christmas tree up straight this year (they never did). Getting a box of Hickory Farms stuff to eat while watching bad old movies. Ordering stuff from Swiss Colony to arrive the week before Christmas. Going to Solvang (a kitchy Denmark wannabe) to spend a couple of days shopping for silly little trinkets, and eating too many ableskivers.  Having our traditional Christmas Eve pizza delivery. Being off work for the entire week (if not two weeks at that time of year) between the end of the Fall university quarter and the start of the Winter quarter....  We did some variation of that every year for, practically speaking, the Daughter's entire life. Now we don't  have that, and we have not been here long enough to build traditions here yet. We did bring over our artifical tree and the ornaments we've gathered, one or two per year. And we did put it up and reminisce about "hey, do you remember when we got this one?" as we hanged them up.  I've tried to kind of make small, daily traditions - a cup of tea and something seasonal homebaked every evening, that sort of thing. And we are going to go to the Christmas market in Edinburgh next week, like we did last year. So that's the start of a tradition.

But, again, we are not in-sync with the referents here, and so the holiday season here, with how people celebrate it, still doesnt' feel like "us."  Until we've been here long enough to get our own traditions going here, I would imagine it'll feel like that. Some days I now feel like I'm kind of lost between two worlds - I would not feel at home in the USA, I don't think, anymore. But while I do consider Scotland "home",  it's not the kind of grounded home where you instinctively know "how things are."  I'd imagine that'll lessen with time. I can say that "I've seen the elephant", and that it hasn't been a bad thing, though.

I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone who was close to their family, and who had very strong traditions, and who is now on the other side of the world from them at the time of year when, emotionally, you want to be the closest to them. Bless you, hang onto them any way you can - internet, letters, phone calls. They'll be missing you, too.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 08:45:25 PM by Nan D. »

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