Snuggled in my duvet on Christmas Eve I could feel the anticipation brewing deep inside me. However unlike previous years, this wasn’t anticipation of the Christmas celebrations chaos that would soon begin, but rather the dread that it was 3am and the ring of my alarm was looming in the near future.
It was the first (and last) time that I have (and will) work on Christmas Day and it was a strange feeling, but it turned out to be the start of a surprisingly pleasant day.
Initially I wasn’t sure what to expect for Christmas this year, as it held a variety of firsts for me: My first abroad, my first as an expat, and my first Christmas away from my family. It was a date that I had pushed into the back of my mind and tried to forget about, as Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I’m not religious, but Christmas symbolizes something far greater than faith. Family. And in my opinion Christmas is the perfect time for family as most places in England close for the holidays, meaning the majority can clock off and spend quality time with their nearest and dearest. But I wasn’t in England, I was in Bangkok, and the majority of Bangkok is Buddhist.
I initially thought Christmas would come and go without much of a fuss, after all, nowadays it’s typically a Christian holiday, but it turns out that Bangkok loves a celebration and within the first few days of December the streets were lined with hanging fairy lights, trees were erected inside shopping malls and tinsel was dotted along shop windows. It still wasn’t home, but it helped bridge some of the distance I felt between myself and home.
Many of my expat friends felt the same, and whilst many had flown home to visit families, there were still a few of us left. So we popped on our stretchy pants and piled into a hotel buffet to fill up on Christmas goodies. There wasn’t actually much Christmas themed food, but there was an array of dishes from all over the world: seafood, curries, grilled vegetables and meat/cheese platters… Soon we had filled our boots, and we hadn’t even started on the dessert table, which was in a league of it’s own. Gingerbread houses, arctic logs, cheesecakes, pies, crumbles, Christmas pudding, sorbets, chocolates and mousses, all lined the edge of the room and I soon found myself wondering if I would leave with diabetes.
Christmas this year wasn’t what I was expecting, and it hurt to be away from family, but being with S and the friends that I have made here, healed those wounds.
So this Christmas I’m raising a glass and toasting to my expat friends.
A new breed of family.