After relocation, the first holidays away from home will be the most challenging. Both awkward and isolating, they are filled with the reminder that, “You are no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.” (Wizard of OZ movie reference)
Our first year in London was all fun and games. In early summer, we explored and learned all about our new home. But that first holiday, I wondered, how am I going to do this?
By November, we were pretty well established into routines. We had daily and weekly activities that kept us full up on groceries and busy. But what about Thanksgiving???
As an American in London, it was a bit awkward. Celebrating holiday that was the led us to disconnecting from Britian? On a non- “Bank Holiday”? It was a Thursday.
The biggest hurdle though was that the lack of family and dear friends. We were literally isolated while trying to do something normal.
After 36 years of American Thanksgivings though, I couldn’t help myself but to plan yet another one, so I got to it. For non-Americans ~ Thanksgivings is surrounded by harvest foods (pumpkin pies, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkey and such), watching the Macy’s day parade and football on TV and mostly spending it with friends and family.
Since only one of the three would be available (this was a few year back), I concentrated on the food and adapted it all to my very small refrigerator, stove and oven.
We invited locals and other expats to join us. It was fun to explain what Thanksgiving was. We talked about the foods that make up the meal. We enjoyed a few chickens since turkeys were not available until Christmas, and I think I made a pumpkin pie from scratch, like starting from a pie pumpkin.
Without Thanksgiving football & parades we decided to go for walk in Kensington Park and played table games. It was nice to take advantage of the temperate London weather. It was 42 degrees and blowing back in Minnesota.
Everything shifted into something a bit new.
Remembering to keep living!
One of the toughest things in Relocation is to keep living. There is continual change and adapting going on. The holidays highlight this additional challenge like a blinding spotlight.
Holidays are surprising. Since the holidays only come once a year and most relocation assignments are less than 3 years, there is no consistency, no daily practice how to do it.
However, like with most topics on ReloMoms, this post is about getting around being Stuck.
Because everything is new the planning starts a few months early. This allows the event becomes an adventure with participants on both side of the pond and figuring out how to get this done away from normal.
Involve the friends and family back home. Get recipes and maybe have holiday care packages sent from there to incorporate into your day! This also alleviates the day of calls from home full of tears, “We miss you so much. WHEN are you coming back? It’s not right without you.”
These calls do not help. However….
By involving them, they become part of your holiday even from a distance. The questions become, “How did the sweet potatoes come out? Did you play the game? How did your new friend like the ______?”
At your new home, involve the new friends you have made. They also have local holidays, customs and foods. Perhaps they could bring cornbread dressing to your holiday event. Great! Add it in, and experience something new.
Ultimately, holidays will all change. They always have, even when you were home from year to year. It’s just not recognizable because it happens to all of you at the same time.
People come and go. Foods change, and the days morph in to something bigger and more full than they were in the years past.
The most valuable to do is to embrace where you are and the life you get to lead today. And when you want to change it, you will make new decisions that will lead life in a different direction.
But today, Celebrate and LIVE.
Explore your new town next: RELOCATION: What the Locals Do