Monday Musings: Holiday Celebrations When Your Family Lives Overseas

As both an American & Filipino national, I fall into a category that many of us do:  I don’t have very much family nearby to spend time with for the holidays.  Most of them are overseas and are not easily accessible.

Tree outside of our home. The star decorations are parol, otherwise known as Filipino Christmas lanterns.

This circumstance has led me to think about the nature of holiday celebrations.  For many people in my life, they are a time to do the same thing every year, with the same people.  A time for traditions to happen over and over again.  A time for the same food & drink to be had… in the same location, with the same company.

Christmas in a hot country, where tropical trees meet the poinsettia.

Because many of my relatives live overseas, my perspective is a bit different. It’s nice to have the company and time while we have it. Location & having certain foods doesn’t matter.

I spent this Christmas overseas with relatives that I hadn’t seen in over a decade.  I did this after spending a great deal of money and time (23 hour flight!) to get over there. At that point, they were just happy we showed up at all and spent the time with me and my husband over a meal while the kids opened their presents:

Thinking about these things reminds me what this holiday season is about for me – more about gratitude for just the time that you can have with one another.  We may not have had Christmas cookies, apple pie or other Western holiday traditions that for some people, are incredibly important to have for their celebrations.  We had other things & but more importantly, just each other. After a very eventful 2016, I’m quite thankful for it.
Happy 2017!

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