“Sunday will be the first time Andrew and I will spend Christmas together, without other family members present.”
Sunday will be the first time Andrew and I will spend Christmas together, without other family members present. We will be especially missing friends and family over the holidays, but we’ve decided to make the best of it by relaxing.
This won’t be the first time either of us has been away from our families for the holiday. In fact, Christmas has been about compromise since we met in university.
At first, we had to choose between spending the holidays together or with our families. Then, after we married, we tried to alternate which family would get us on Christmas and which would wait until a few days after.
This won’t even be our first non-Canadian Christmas; we spent last year with Andrew’s family in Florida.
Christmas as an expat couple
But this year, there will be no jumping in the car to go from one family to the next. There will be no rush to fit everyone into the holiday-visiting schedule in the few days we’d have off. In fact, it should be downright quiet in comparison to the marathon visiting sessions of the past.
I won’t be giving up all of my Christmas traditions, however. Even though it’s just the two of us, we wanted to decorate a Christmas tree and it had to be real.
Despite having needles all through the house, I just can’t bring myself to buy a fake tree. I need the smell of fir, not plastic to get me in the Christmas spirit.
So now the tree is up and although it’s a bit unconventional, it suits us. Our European tree has bright and bold colors, rather than the traditional red and green. It also has lots of glitz and glitter so we have dubbed her ‘The Diva Tree’.
We had to glam up the tree because she’s a bit bare underneath. We exchanged presents with friends and family when we visited Canada in the fall.
I have a need to see people’s reactions when they open the gifts I searched so hard for. I insisted on a series of ‘mini Christmases’ each time we visited someone new.
Exchanging gifts for travel
Andrew and I have forgone exchanging gifts this year in lieu of post-Christmas travel plans. We haven’t settled on a date or destination yet, but that’s what the holidays will be for.
In addition to the festive smell of our little Diva, I’ll be filling the house with smells of Christmas cooking on the 25th. I’ve ordered a fresh turkey, just big enough for two (with enough leftovers for turkey sandwiches and soup of course).
I’ve been rooting through my cookbook collection for interesting stuffing and side dish recipes and I plan to spend the day cooking and feasting.
We won’t be totally alone over the holidays. Of course, we will make calls to family and friends on the big day. We are also spending Christmas Eve with friends in Antwerp. Over the holidays we hope to visit our friends in the Netherlands and our neighbor wants to take us to visit her hometown in Northern Belgium.
But mostly we’ll be sitting back and reflecting on a busy year — a year that’s been full of changes for us. We’ll enjoy a bit of quiet time together without the usual hustle and bustle and holiday stress.
This year, while we will have our Canadian family and friends with us in our hearts and thoughts, we will make some new traditions, just the two (well, seven) of us.