This year was the first year that I spent Christmas away from my home and not in glorious Devon, in the south-west of England. This was due to a number of factors, including the phenomenal price of flights from Thailand to London in this period. It also stemmed from the fact that my boyfriend and I wanted to spend Christmas together for the first time, but had a constant argument over whose house to go to if we returned to the UK (he is from Newcastle, I am from Devon, it’s not an easy decision).
I’m not going to lie, spending Christmas away from home was definitely not easy. I missed the cold, dreary British weather, the evenings next to the fire watching senseless TV, the tradition of Christmas baking, my dog, and my mum. I missed getting inappropriately drunk in our local pub on Christmas eve, resulting in a hungover Christmas morning, cured by our traditional breakfast of Bucks Fizz. As I knew that all this homesickness was bound to happen, I threw myself into celebrating the Christmas period in a new way.
Spending Christmas away from home, with new-found friends, is absolutely fantastic. You form new traditions by merging cultures and kinships. You create your own family, a little group of lost souls, all secretly missing the comfort of their family home. This year, we celebrated the Christmas period with wine, cheese, too many Korean chicken wings, cats, and Japanese karaoke (with Thai whiskey) that helped to uphold the common tradition of the Christmas morning hangover. I will always remember Christmas 2015 as a period of hysterical laughter and friendships that I hope to maintain for the long-run.
Many countries have a Western influence, whether they like it or not. If you are really missing tinsel and fairy lights, you can often find them in the malls, as demonstrated by these fantastic giant plastic Christmas trees below.
Something that was incredibly important for me was the Christmas dinner. Back home, this is the most important part of the day. My family, including my extended family all squeeze around our kitchen table. It’s an old oak affair that we have had my entire life, and my Dad recently made a new top that can be clipped on, to enlarge it and keep up with our ever-enlarging family. My Mum and my Aunt go all out on the cooking, and we have at least 2 meats. There are crackers, and it usually ends with my having a blow out with my Uncle. I wanted to be able to recreate this somewhat, and if you are prepared (like I was), you can do some research and find a western restaurant serving a Christmas dinner. Ours was a three-course slap up meal, complete with turkey and Christmas pudding, hosted by the fantastic Archer’s bar in Chiang Mai (I recommend it even for a Sunday roast). Of course, it wasn’t the same as being at home, but it was still highly enjoyable.
Just because you are spending Christmas away from home, it does not mean that you cannot be there in spirit. I had a custom made chocolate hamper sent to my family, for them to devour in my honour. On the evening of the 25th, I used the joys of modern technology to Skype my family, and watch them unwrap presents on their Christmas morning, Bucks Fizz in hand.
The purpose of this blog post is to encourage you to not spend a fortune flying home for Christmas. You can create your own memories in numerous ways: by forming new traditions, or by recreating those from your childhood. When travelling, you get to a point where you realise family does not just mean blood and the friends that you make can make your day. Finally, what spending Christmas away from home really does, is make you appreciate where you come from, your roots, your parents, your home, so that the next time you go home, you will cherish every moment.