Is it really too early to think about the coming holiday season? Not when we live away from our home country. But in case you may have forgotten, busy PW that you are, Christmas is less than two months away. So this month PW has some holiday helps for you.
Carol, a veteran PW, sent us conversion charts she has worked out during her many years in Europe. She has included lots of equivalents to help you make sure your holiday recipes turn out just right, even if you don’t how many grams make a Tablespoon. You can find the links to that information at the end of this email, so keep on reading.
I don’t have to tell you that holidays outside your home culture are very different than at home. You may have cried your way through a few Christmases already. Somehow memories of family and home become more poignant during the festive seasons. Everything is so different! I still recall the many Christmases in Nigeria and in Malaysia, when our tree was outlined on the wall with fake pine garland. My husband says it looked like we bent a giant green caterpillar into the rough shape of a tree and stuck it to the wall. Successful PW families learn different isn’t bad and flexibility is the key.
When you married, you had to blend the customs you and your husband each brought into your marriage. You had extended families to consider, and when the children came, even more adjustments had to be made. Now it is yet another adjustment to blend your family’s traditions and the cultural situation you find yourselves in.
You used to set the time and order of events, but these may be set for you now. We have had to have our family Christmas before or after the 25th some years. What would have been a private family meal, became an occasion for locals and other expatriates to join us. Our gift giving was never lavish, but some years on the field we had to be very creative to find anything special for each person. Amazing what you can find in the town market when you really look. Being willing to change, adapt, and flow with your new surroundings will make the whole season fulfilling rather than disappointing. As many of you know, we do not really lose our memories of home and snow and firelight. We add new memories made from cross-cultural cloth.
When forced out of our regular customs, we can pay closer attention to the real reason for our traditions. Be ready to tell others why we celebrate. Sharing our holidays is a way to share what is most meaningful to us. So many PW families find Christmas is the best time of the year to share the reason for the season. Christmas cookies can open closed hearts.
Living outside your home culture is the perfect time to help your family make new traditions. One year a family sent us a care package just before Christmas. In a mailing tube was a tiny Christmas tree with delicate ornaments and a gold tree topper. That year we were traveling to a nearby country for meetings so we carried our new tree in our luggage. In the guesthouse where we stayed that Christmas eve, we set our tiny tree on a table. We had to put our presents on the floor so we could still see the tree! That tree became a regular part of our traditions. When our sons married, we found a tiny tree for each of them and they continue that tradition because it reminds them of their growing up years overseas. It still brings tears to our eyes.
One PW noticed that many folks in her community didn’t have warm socks for the severe winter of that area. She didn’t have any money to buy gifts for her new friends, but she wrote an email to her friends back home about her desire to give socks as Christmas gifts. She got a lot of socks, each pair wrapped in prayer. Ladies (and men who might be reading this, too) there are some new joys we never experience because we hold too tightly to our old ones.
Be creative this year in how you celebrate. Start some new traditions. Incorporate some of your new culture into your family’s traditions. You will be glad you did.
See our oven conversion chart