As an expat at Christmastime for the first time, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to feel fully present in the holiday. Warm, rainy weather and prevalence of a Muslim culture certainly contribute to my struggle to believe that Christmas is this week.
Some things I miss that have come to define signs of the holiday are: advent, Christmas music, snow, Christmas lights on homes, church, singing with my family, traveling to see loved ones, and of course, being surrounded by family. Smaller things, like my Mom’s Christmas cookies, hot cider, or going Christmas tree shopping the cold day after Thanksgiving seem to be a bit more important than I thought they were. I do not miss the commercial bombardment of the holiday, nor do I miss the horrible renditions of holiday songs playing everywhere I go.
I realize that a big part of what makes Christmas what it is for me is the traditions. Some of these traditions are from the Midwest, where I grew up. Others are from my family or from Tom’s family. This year is our first year together apart from those influences, and Tom and I have the challenge of choosing our traditions and creating our own traditions together.
We have therefore surrounded ourselves with people in festive circumstances: school sing-alongs, Christmas parties, and baking Christmas cookies. Despite the crazy cost of Christmas decorations in Casablanca, we have decorated three of our plants like Christmas trees. We lovingly packed boxes of Moroccan delights for our family. Christmas day will find us along the ocean, wearing llama sweaters to block from the wind and celebrating with our colleagues (Jim and LuAnn), their children, and our friends Vickie and Krista from the U.S.
Moroccan Camel Ornament with Austrian Stars
Christmas ball on our tropical plant
Wishing you joy as you celebrate Christmas in your own way. Wishing you comfort as you miss those who cannot be part of your Christmas.