A Six-Word Story

Words left unsaid always stay forever.

Spending Christmas Abroad

It’s Christmas time again and it surely is very colorful everywhere back home these days. Christmas trees, lights and decors here and there. Christmas is my favorite holiday. It’s the most joyful time with my family and my closest friends, the warmest feeling of happiness, great food, tons of drinks, gift-giving and so on. But this year, it doesn’t feel like Christmas is just around the corner. I’m not saying Christmas doesn’t mean anything for me anymore. It’s just that, for the first time in years, I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit at all. Oh, my heart is aching to go home.

As an expatriate, spending Christmas away from home can be a difficult time. Celebrating Christmas abroad is very likely not to be like celebrating Christmas at home, specially if you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Well maybe, many expats, specially those who live with their families here, still feel the holiday mood because some malls put up a Christmas tree or hang some Christmas decors but it’s still just different, of course. And for some, it’s just another ordinary day.

This year will be my ninth Christmas far from home and here’s what it’s like for me:

I go to work on Christmas day.

Christmas is not a Muslim holiday which means it is not celebrated in Islamic countries like Kuwait. I mean, it’s not declared a public holiday even though there are a lot of non-Muslims residing in the country. A day off on Christmas day for Christian workers would be ideal but I’m not sure it’s being practiced here though in the company I work with, I’m usually given a half-day off. There’s not much difference for me anyway since I still have to go to the office just the same and I’d even choose to go overtime and go home later at night once the crowd is gone because even though it’s not a public holiday, people swarm the streets after work, buses are full, taxis are hard to find. Chaotic.

I think of them and miss them.

I do think of my family and friends of course not only during the holidays but when it’s Christmas, the very thought that I’m away from them saddens me a lot. Christmas is that one holiday when everyone has to be home. My mom forgives us not being home on other holidays or special occasions but not Christmas. It was only when I started working here that our family ain’t complete during this time of the year. Sure we can arrange a video chat or something but with the time difference and all, sometimes, it’s also not that easy.

I somehow feel disconnected.

Sure, I get the freedom I’ve always wanted being away from home but it’s still a bit heartbreaking sometimes not being able to go home for Christmas. Putting up the Christmas tree with my brothers with my mom’s voice on the background is something I really miss. Not being able to eat with them for the noche buena, not being able to exchange gifts with them, not being with them is sad. Not being able to hug and kiss them is sadder. Not being able to join them for our family Christmas “rituals” makes me somehow disconnected from them.

I make my own celebration.

Well, I try to. I celebrated with friends like last year. Though I was just invited to a friend’s home, it ended up like I was the one who organized the celebration. It’s a long story but it turned out pretty well. It made us all feel a little less homesick.

I don’t get drunk.

I don’t mean I want to be totally inebriated of course but a few bottles here and there would help bout homesickness during this time of the year. Unfortunately, alcohol import or consumption is strictly against the law in Kuwait. Hotels and restaurants don’t serve alcohol as well. That means, I’m completely sober during Christmas. 🙂

I don’t get to have a lot of Christmas presents.

As I didn’t send as many. Haha! Not that I’m expecting gifts for Christmas but seeing the gifts piling up under the Christmas tree brings me joy. I’m not really good at gifts actually but seeing lots of colorful presents waiting to be opened on Christmas morning is a true delight!

It’s this time of the year that I always realize it’s not the end of the world.

Living abroad alone is a rough time, more so during the holidays but it’s this time of the year that I always realize it’s not the end of the world. I know it’s always up to me, of course, whether to make the most out of the situation or be a Grinch! Though alone, I still want to enjoy this Christmas and never look back at it with regret. Being alone ain’t that bad after all and I’d appreciate solitude and silence in a world that never stops talking.

Now how about you? Have you ever spent Christmas away from home? How’s it like? And how do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year? Feel free to share!

Have a wonderful Christmas, homo sapiens! 🙂