We are now only a few days away and I’ve been thinking about whether it was the right choice to be on the other side of the world, away from home, at this special time of year. Christmas is so important to the children: they have always enjoyed taking part in the school Christmas carols and nativity play; over the holiday season we spend a lot of time catching up with friends and family; and of course – the magic of Christmas morning at home – waking up to stockings and presents around the christmas tree… We don’t have a religious focus for our celebrations, but we do focus on family time; sitting down together to eat good food, giving and receiving gifts, and enjoying having some time out, away from the hustle and bustle of our normal working lives.
Of course Australians do Christmas too – its the Western world, after all. Its just that Christmas here just seems very different to anything we’ve ever known before.
However, one of the most important parts of this trip was to show the kids the world, how others live and how things are done differently in other countries. And what better time to show something done differently to back home, than Christmas?
But how can we ensure our kids don’t feel too alien and removed from their usual Christmassy expectations, and yet still show them an alternative way of doing the ‘big day’? I wanted to think of some ways in which we can make Christmas extra special this year. It is after all, the year we celebrated Christmas 11,000 miles from home…
1. Bring some traditions with us.
When we arrived here in Sydney, the kids were asked: did they want to celebrate Christmas lunch the way they do every year or do it differently – the Aussie way? Back home we enjoy the whole turkey dinner, with ALL the trimmings! Here in Australia, my relatives normally have a big BBQ, usually with a seafood platter. And no roast potatoes! As expected, they kids chose the roast dinner, so that tradition is going to stay. Although it may be a roast dinner in the garden…
2. Do something new on Christmas Day!
Where we live in the south west region of the UK, it’s quite common for us to have a beach walk, even at Christmas time, but we do it fully-clothed, safely on the shore line, wrapped up warm in fleece jumpers, coats, scarfs and mittens! Some crazy folk in Exmouth and Budleigh do swim in the sea on Christmas morning, but that’s all a bit mad and it’s usually done to raise money for charity!
However this year, after seeing what Santa has delivered, we will be off to the beach to enjoy some Christmas sunshine – but with suncream, bikinis and surfboards! We hope it will always be remembered as the year we swam in a warm sea on Christmas Day!
3. Present buying has to be creative.
Its hard to fill a stocking when a) you don’t have one and b) you know that all the new stuff is going to need to fit into the backpacks.
So, how are we going to do this?!
Well, I once read a pin on Pinterest that told of the Four Gift Rule for gift-giving to kids (try saying that quickly after a few festive tipples!). This year seemed like a good time to follow the advice:
Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.
This doesn’t mean the kids will only get 4 presents (!) – I made sure added a few extra lines of my own!
Something they’ll write with,
Something they’ll eat,
Something to wash with,
Plus an extra special treat!
4. Be creative with making stockings
We just didn’t have room to bring the kids stockings in our backpacks. We did consider it quite seriously, as we knew it would mean a lot to them. However, the thought of lugging 15kg of luggage around Asia, in a boiling hot monsoon, with some of that precious packing space being taken up by Christmas stockings, made us see sense.
So we have decided that our art and craft session this festive season, will be how to ‘make’ a stocking that will live up to the kids great expectations.
This whole project has got Aaron and I reminiscing happily about how our parents made-do back in the 1980’s, using pillow cases and even our dad’s old socks, as make-shift stockings! And if it was good enough for us, surely it will be good enough for our kids too?! The only problem with this grand plan is that we have only brought trainer ankle socks with us, which even by our standards are too small; and we’re worried that a pillow case may be a tad disappointing, if on Christmas morning, it’s recipient finds that Santa only half-filled it! Now obviously, this is a first world problem, but we have kids that have grown up in the ‘noughties’, so it may be an issue. Watch this space….
5. Book in Facetime / Skype chats with friends and family
Due to the time difference between the UK, Europe and Australia, we’ve had to work out where everyone will be and when we’re able to get together to talk on the Big Day. It’s great for our kids in this day and age, that they won’t have to make do with just a crackly phone line to talk with Grandma, Grandad and all their friends on Christmas day. They will actually be able to ‘show’ them what presents they got; and we’re hoping, if we can get the timing right and spend enough time at the beach, they may perhaps even open some presents ‘live’ on air, so the enjoyment of gift giving AND receiving can be shared by all!