Christmas away from home

This is my first Christmas away from home. Actually, that’s a lie. Craig and I once spent Christmas in Rome but I tend to not think of that as Christmas, just a holiday. The days either side of Christmas Day were brilliant, but I learnt that I’m really not built for spending Christmas away from my family. Yeah, we saw the Pope but I’d rather have spent the time with my grandparents, as well as with Craig, obviously.

This year, it’s unavoidable. I’m going to be in Ecuador for Christmas. At least in Rome it was cold; there was sleet and mulled wine and carol singers. Christmas in a hot climate is unthinkable to me. I don’t know how to handle it. Australians having BBQs on the beach for their Christmas dinner has always shocked me to the core. How do they cope without the robin sat on a snow-dusted spade in a red-berry covered garden – archetypal Christmas card image type of thing?

Even as I sit in a beach hut in northern Peru, overlooking the Pacific, I can’t stop thinking about all the things I’m missing: London’s Christmas lights; Christmas jingles; moans about the Christmas number one (X-Factor, by any chance?); betting on whether or not it’ll be a White Christmas (surely the ultimate Christmas, which I’ve never experienced to its full potential); cocktails with my friends; wrapping up warm to go Christmas shopping and the manic look in people’s eyes when they leave it all until Christmas Eve; taking on an uncharacteristic religious slant and attending a Christmas carol concert, just so I can sing my heart out; that super-intense Friday feeling the last day before Christmas in the office (possibly the only time I’ll ever miss work); and arriving home laden with presents to find the tree in all its splendour and the house smelling like Christmas: vanilla, pine, wood smoke and dog.

Finally, the big day. I still can’t quite believe I’m going to miss it: roast turkey, ham, roast potatoes, honey-roast parsnips, prawns and smoked salmon (and the ensuing food fights); my aunt Jane’s bread sauce; arguments over the gravy; dozing in front of the television, or, if you’re my uncle Nigel, snoring loudly in front of the box; the huge tin of Quality Street; the paper jungle that spreads across the living room as cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and siblings all tear open their presents in a flurry of activity usually unheard of at that time in the morning; mulled wine in The Cricketers; walking the dogs after lunch; Baileys; leftovers sandwiches; pass-the-parcel, which my family still insists on even though the youngest of my generation is nearer 20 than 10 years old, and no-one has had a baby yet; wobbling home from The Hunters Inn in the crisp darkness; pigs in blankets; orange juice and champagne for breakfast – clearly, Christmas in my family revolves around food! And family.

Without a doubt, this is going to be the hardest time of my travels. If I could go home for the festive week I would. The good thing is we’re going to be with Craig’s aunt and uncle, who have rented a beachside apartment in Ecuador for a few weeks. We’ll be with family, which is what Christmas is about, after all. That, and food. For me, religion got lost in realism a long time ago!

And maybe, if he can find me down here, Father Christmas will bring me a snow machine for Christmas.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Christmas away from home”
  1. Clarisa Paradise says:

    Hey. I got a 502 gateway error earlier today when I tried to access this page. Anyone else had the problem?

  2. Jo Carver says:

    You summed it up in a nutshell. Sat reading it with a lump in my throat and we are now 2 weeks past the Christmas period. As much as I love my life out here in BC, there is that horrible emptiness that encroaches about a week before, the missing piece for the festive season. Your writing strikes a cord every time hun, usually an amazingly positive one, but this time I am left with a wanting for a mum hug!

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