In my 28 years of existence, I have only ever spent one christmas away from my family and that was last year. ‘C’ had just moved to Mexico from DC and it was the only holiday time I had from work to come and visit (Singapore to Mexico is a long and expensive journey, so I wanted to stay as long as possible). Although feeling guilty my family understood, and I was incredibly excited about seeing ‘C’ again after four months so it was easy to push my guilty conscience aside.
This is going to be my second Christmas away from my family, and I must admit it feels awful knowing my parents are going to spend Christmas alone. Christmas in my family has always been exceptionally important. We are a family who travel extensively, but no matter where in the world we find ourselves we have always made it home for Christmas there was a time when all four of us (my parents, my brother and myself) were all living on different continents let alone different countries.
For us Christmas is steeped in family tradition, and I think because of our nomadic lifestyle this is why Christmas is even more important to us. We would celebrate the Swedish Christmas on December 24th with all the traditional Swedish food such as ham, meatballs, herring and then on the 25th we would celebrate an English Christmas with turkey, stuffing and bread sauce – either on our own or with close family friends. The weeks prior and post Christmas my brother and I would catch up with all our old friends who had also made the annual pilgrimage back to town for Christmas, every night there was some kind of party or event.
People who are new to Singapore would always comment that it never really felt like Christmas to them, saying as it was too hot and humid. At the time I didn’t really understand them – I always got that Christmasy feeling in Singapore, the streets were lit up, the buildings decorated the aircon in our house was on full blast! However I realise now it has nothing to do with the weather, but its to do with not being with your family.
I have tried so hard to get into the Christmas spirit the last few weeks here in Mexico – I have bullied ‘C’ into buying a Christmas tree, I got my mother to send me Swedish Christmas decorations and music, we even had a Christmas party last Saturday and I made all the traditional Christmas food that my mother makes….but it still feels slightly empty.
Maybe this is what its like to grow up, and maybe that why I’m so homesick? Knowing that Christmas will never be the same again, that my family dynamic is changing. That my parents are getting older and I’m living on the other side of the world? That one by one my friends are no longer making the journey back to Singapore either as they too have moved on with their lives. I guess its time for me to make my own Christmas tradition with ‘C’ and hopefully next year – my family can come and visit me and we can enjoy the new tradition together.