I Won’t Be Home for Christmas: What It’s Like Spending the Holidays Overseas

Written by: Jessica Nemire

 

Growing up with a Jewish mother and a Christian father, my winter holidays always looked a little different than most kids’.

My parents didn’t raise me or my brother with any religion, but they still wanted to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas with us for fun. Since one of the eight nights of Hanukkah often coincides with Christmas, many of my Christmas mornings were spent gathered around the Christmas tree opening presents while our menorah sat flickering nearby and an album called ‘Winter Dreams’ by a Native American flautist played in the background – the only ‘seasonal’ music my mother would tolerate.

Hanukkah lit menorah

As if that weren’t enough of a culture clash already, for every Christmas dinner we would either prepare and eat a feast of various types of Indian food, as my brother and I grew up vegetarian but my parents ate meat, and it was the one cuisine we all liked with an equal amount of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. This is also what we always did for Thanksgiving.

If we were feeling too lazy on Christmas or Turkey Day, we would go to a Chinese restaurant, as there were no other restaurants open on Christmas, and it’s a bit of a Jewish tradition to “go out for a Chinese” on December 25.

Spending Christmas Abroad

This year, my holidays are going to look even more different than usual. This will be my first Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah spent away from home. On the morning of each of these holidays, I will wake up not in my bed at my mom’s house, and I will not go downstairs to join my family. Instead I’ll wake up in my bunk bed in the hostel I work and live at in Barcelona, Spain.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah definitely aren’t a thing over here, and Christmas is, but most of the festivities revolve around religion, so I probably won’t end up celebrating any of the holidays I’m used to participating in towards the end of the year, every year.

Christmas lights in Barcelona

While I’m obviously sad about not spending the holidays with my family this year, I’m 100 percent aware that this is probably one of the last times in my life I can just take off and move to a different country for an indefinite period of time.

I graduated college in May, packed my whole life into a suitcase and hopped on a plane to Barcelona. I was 24 and had no job, car, pets or kids to tie me down. Several years down the line, that might not be the case.

In six or eight or 10 years, I might be the mom putting on Native American flute music and hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree while my toddler whines and smashes latkes into the carpet, and I’ll fondly reminisce about the time I moved across the world to a faraway city I loved just because I could.

If you’re like me and spending the holidays abroad for the first time, try to focus on where you are instead of where you aren’t. You might not be sitting around your family’s Christmas tree, but you might have ridden a camel in Marrakech yesterday, eaten a picnic by the Eiffel tower today, or woken up this morning gazing at the turquoise waters of Koh Phi Phi.

Enjoy your time abroad as much as possible, and make sure you have plenty of amazing stories to bring back to your family the next time you’re all together.


Jessica Nemire is a travel blogger from Santa Cruz, CA, who has been living in Barcelona since June. Read about her adventures at http://readyjessgo.com/ or follow her on Instagram at @readyjessgo.

Check out these top travel experiences

Search

Anzac Day Tour

from £559

10 days

Turkey

Enhance your ANZAC experience & see the best of Turkey. Start your Anzac Day tour in Istanbul and experience an...

Travel Cambodia & Vietnam

from £1078

24 - 360 days

Cambodia, Vietnam

Go 'Stray' in Cambodia and Vietnam and look forward to an exciting adventure through old world cities, UNESCO temples, ethnic...

South Island Heli Tour

from £3075

7 days

New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand’s Ultimate Heli Ski Tour! Over 7 days we will heli 3 different mountain ranges and head...

Toki 14-day tour of Japan

from £1990

14 days

Japan

From Tokyo's futuristic neon lights and the rice fields of Izumo, to Kyoto's ancient temples and pristine beaches of the...

Big One – Adventure Canada

from £750

26 days

Canada

Experience it all. Great outdoors, national parks, epic citiesm quant towns. Gaspesie, Laurentians, Algonquin, Bay of Fundy, and Cabot Trail.

Ultimate Bali

from £530

10 days

Indonesia

Discover the best of Bali on our 10 day Ultimate Bali tour. If you’re looking for the perfect combination of...

South Island Adrenalin Junkie

from £1235

12 days

New Zealand

Get your blood pumping and pulse racing! Or are you someone who would love to see the very best of...

South Island Snow Odyssey

from £1540

12 days

New Zealand

Forget the mass market commercial ski fields in Queenstown. Our 12 day South Island Snow Odyssey takes you on an...

Savanna Dawn Nairobi to Victoria Falls

from £1145

34 days

Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe

Get up close to the amazing wildlife in the Serengeti National park, chill out on the white sandy beaches of...

Ultimate Thailand

from £560

11 days

Thailand

Explore Bangkok’s temples and night life, wake up in the jungle on our floating raft houses, see baby monkeys in...

Search

Costa Rica Volcanoes & Surfing

from £809

Mountain bike along Lake Arenal with breathtaking volcanic views and catch a wave on this action-packed nine-day tour of Costa...

Central Asia Explorer

from £2020

Be entranced by the beauty and the wonder of Central Asia on this 17-day tour from the capital of Kyrgyzstan...

Desert Tracker 19 Day

from £390

Channel your inner Attenborough on this memorable and enlightening exploration of southern and western Africa, from Cape Town to Livingstone....

Myanmar (Burma) Sailing Adventure ex Phuket

from £1660

Departing from Phuket, discover Burma on an Intrepid sailing adventure and dive into an aquatic playground that is truly one...

British Winter Warmer

from £1169

Channel your inner explorer as you discover some of the best that England and Scotland has to offer. Swing by...

Ethiopian Explorer

from £3795

Travel to Ethiopia and discover unique and beautiful places on this journey through the heart of the country. Experience a...

Sri Lanka Express

from £679

Discover Sri Lanka's incredible cultural and natural highlights on this eight-day tour. Explore a spice plantation, look for elephants on...

Real Food Adventure Vietnam & Cambodia

from £2099

Chop, slice and chomp your way through the diverse flavours of South East Asia on this mouthwatering Real Food Adventure...

In The Shadow Of Machu Picchu

Big on comfort for those short on time, this journey offers an intriguing combination of natural wonders and local cultures....

East Coast Encompassed–Sydney to Cairns

from £1919

Rugged landscapes, crashing surf, and Indigenous culture stretching back through time and beyond – Australia’s East Coast possesses a truly...

Find more articles like this one

Search
[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]