Christmas as an expat kinda sucks. No, scratch that, it really sucks. My bf has family, he has a lot of it. He's got two brothers with kids who live fairly close to us and then there's his mom and sister who live too far away to see often.
Years ago we'd spend the holidays with his brothers and kids, when the kids were little. It was nice, we would spoil the kids getting them gifts. Now that the kids are older and the families have become messed up we don't spend the holidays with them anymore. It's been years since we did.
I used to set up a tree, decorate it, and run around buying gifts to put under it. I'd even have stockings which aren't a tradition here. I'd fill the stocking for everyone, even for myself, like I imagine my mom would do when I was little.
I used to love Christmas, the smell of the tree especially. I loved to wake up to the smell of a real pine tree and mandarin oranges. My mother would use mandarins at the bottom of each stocking. I'd eat it while opening gifts.
We'd take turns opening presents. We'd go around the room and watch and comment on other family member's gifts. It's not exactly the same here everyone just grabs and opens their gifts. But it was nice nonetheless. Now I'd much rather be away for Christmas. I'd rather be out of the country if I can.
My parents were so good at making Christmas magical for me. I would leave out milk and cookies for Santa and my mother would leave small gifts under the tree for me from him. She'd write little tags, they had a silly printed hand written SANTA on them. One year they told me to leave a carrot out for the reindeer. The next morning I found bite marks like a deer had taken a bite. Still not sure how she managed that one.
The last Christmas I had with my dad I was probably 19 or so. I said I'd leave something for Santa. It was tradition after all. We were out of milk so I filled a glass with water and then spiked it with Vodka or some transparent alcohol, I left cookies and I still remember the look on my dad's face the next morning. He thought it was funny.
This year the bf and I are going to a spa-hotel for three nights. It would have been my first Christmas here in my new apartment. It would have been rather quiet, possibly depressing depending on my mood and how nostalgic I'm feeling. I'm looking forward to getting away and having the opportunity to have a nice Christmas dinner with the bf. There won't be any gift opening I'm sure, but it'll be nice.
I just miss having family to celebrate with. All our friends go away or spend Christmas with their families. It's not like New Year's Eve where we often spend it with a big group of friends. Christmas is just better with family to share it with.