Recent guest poster Jill Kristal of Transitional Learning Curves is back with more outstanding insight on that very topic. Below is an excerpt from an article Jill contributed to the Weekly Telegraph.
In addition to the piece below, she provided a link to an excellent article from the Matador Network entitled Expat Celebrations: Tips for Spending Holidays Overseas (Jill's daughter is pictured in the fourth photo from the top!).
Thanks again, Jill for all of your help and to all the readers who shared theit tips on the blog, Facebook page, and Twitter! And be sure to check out Transitional Learning Curves for assistance in living your best life abroad.
Away From Home for the Holidays
Excerpted from an article written for The Weekly Telegraph, London
For expats, holidays can be joyous occasions of what is familiar and painful reminders of all we have given up for this ‘wonderful opportunity’ of living abroad. Holidays come packed with memories of people, places and experiences and, while abroad, they are reminders of people we cannot be with and events we aren’t part of. The pain of separation, feelings of loss, awareness of distance, belief that ‘my family celebrated the only/right way to celebrate’ are all likely to be greatly exacerbated during holiday times. Add to this the wish to celebrate holidays not recognized in your host culture, difficulty securing supplies to celebrate as you would like, and a lack of understanding of the significance or meaning of your holiday can make getting though the experience feel more like an endurance test than the memorable occasion it is meant to be.
Like so much else in the expat experience, holidays can be a mixed bag, and how you get through them can be influenced by choices you make and the degree of flexibility you are willing or able to bring to realizing them. Holidays can be an opportunity to reflect on who you are; where you came from; to whom, what, why and how you are connected. Holidays can arouse multiple, diverse, and often unexpected and unexplainable feelings in yourself and those around you. Celebrating holidays in another culture often poses challenges and the chance to reach within and discover abilities and skills for coping that have lain dormant which may be put to use in new and different ways. We struggle to hold on to the familiar and resist change, but it is through change and what we encounter because of it along the way -- i.e., varied experience, challenge, exposure -- that we grow as humans, as individuals and as families.
Holidays celebrated abroad provide infinite opportunity for adaptation, awareness, appreciation, and exposure to new ways of viewing and celebrating the familiar. New rituals can be developed and added to existing ones. Realization can occur that ‘the way it’s always been done’ does not mean it can’t occur with some added twist. Some changes will bring improvements to familiar events. Opportunities can be created for teaching, sharing and exposing others to your holidays and ways of doing things. Living abroad often heightens awareness of and appreciation for your own culture and traditions.
And, if and when you return 'home,' you will find yourselves remembering with fond nostalgia the special and unique ways you celebrated as expats.
Photo: Antonio M. Rosario
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