I don't want to feel like scrooge this time every year
November 26, 2011 6:03 PM Subscribe
Help an American engineer a good Australian christmas.
posted by forza to human relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm an American expat, and have lived in Australia (Adelaide) for about three years now. I used to really like Christmas, but increasingly have come to dread this season, and I need to figure out how to get over this, because we're going to have many Christmases here.
Here's why I dread it:
1. It all just feels wrong. It should be cold, dammit! There should be lots of darkness so the Christmas lights feel warm and caring and beautiful, rather than just strange. The Christmas decorations of snowmen and Christmas trees feel awful and discordant. Basically, Christmas is the time that all of my culture shock comes to the fore (and otherwise I hardly feel it at all - I love Australia). I feel like more of an outsider now than at any other time of the year.
2. All the Christmas rituals from my husbands' and my families therefore either are impossible to enact (e.g., having a big snowball fight) or kind of suck (e.g., waking up and having mugs of hot chocolate). Christmas trees look really bizarre in the middle of the 40-degree heat and blazing sun, so I never want to set one up.
3. This is actually probably the main one -- no family is in Australia with us, and we don't have the money to travel all the way to America or the UK (where my husband is from). Both my husband and I miss our family intensely then. We skype but it's just not the same, and actually often makes us feel worse. It also makes matters worse when I know all our local friends here are doing things with their families, even though I don't begrudge them that at all; but it does make me feel lonelier.
My husband and I have tried to replace the old traditions with new ones, and make the two of us be enough "family" for us. Instead of a snowball fight, we end up going on a nice hike somewhere (which is pretty cool). We make Christmas dinner for just us. But it still feels like a pretty lonely and sad day, and not so different from any other day that is the two of us hanging out together (which is most weekends). It doesn't feel like a holiday, and that's depressing.
I think we just have to try to do more to make it special, without reminding us of everything we miss. However, I'm kind of stuck on what kind of thing that might be. Neither of us really want to travel -- we like our house, the roads and crowds sound like a nightmare, and we have cats so finding a cat-sitter for Christmas would be very difficult.
So, given these constraints, what can we do to make Christmas less grim?