The thoughts of Christmas seem to arrive earlier and earlier each year. The shops here in Pattaya don’t have anything remotely Christmassy on their shelves yet, but I have read on social media that the UK has a few things popping up in the supermarkets already. Selfridges department store opened their Christmas shop in September! Information about Christmas lunches in BKK have been sent to me and people are asking on the online forums of the best places to go for a hotel Christmas lunch!
I know that things need to be planned and people need to know what’s available to them, anyone with children will need to arrange where to go and what to do. Especially if that involves visiting family abroad or having them visit you. But I can’t help but feel that it’s all becoming too stressful and the fun seems to have been sucked out of it all, you shouldn’t need to plan so much to enjoy the Christmas holidays, should you? I don’t remember it being like this when I was younger.
But things change and the times have changed. Everything is so much more specific and controlled, paid for and delivered, courtesy of Amazon and the like. I to had to think about Christmas, my flight “home“ was booked way back in July. It’s all arranged, I know when I am going and I know when I am coming back. Yet still I feel uneasy. Everything is arranged and all the family know that I am coming. There is excitement and dates have been put into the diary for dinners and lunches. All of this somehow overwhelms me a little.
Let’s face it, it’s never a holiday when one goes “home”, there are so many people to see and days are planned out by all concerned, you end up eating out too much and drinking too much and spending too much… and it’s all just so exhausting. I never actually feel I have done what I want. Friends of mine feel the same, it’s a big whirl of unfulfilled expectations. If like me you stay for the duration of the holiday with parents or family, there is the commitment to them to consider too.
Being a good house guest, helping out around the home, that of course goes with out saying. The feeling of guilt that your siblings need a break from doing all the running around, the hospital appointments and shopping trips. They make you feel like a part time child/sibling, well I suppose they are right aren’t they? We aren’t there all the time. We don’t receive the phone calls about not feeling well and pleas of “will you take me to the doctor”. We are the ones that are there for the special times, the summer/school holidays, Christmas, perhaps even for a birth or marriage and of course the inevitable, death. Leaving your expat life isn’t easy. It is your life.
You’ve made it work for you and your family. You work hard at creating a life somewhere else. You enjoy it. Why, you even deserve it. But as you age, so do your parents, and you aren’t there to support them, should they need it. Rest assured, they will need it. The guilt is difficult to deal with. But we do have to deal with it. Would your parents want you to drop everything and come back and live back at home?
They wouldn’t. They love you and are happy and proud of you. Yet we feel a sense of uncomfortable acceptance of not being quite good enough, not hands on enough, just not there enough….. We must all at this age, accept what we have made of our lives. We are not hurting anyone. We are living our life the way we want. We are happy. Be a part of your parents/in laws/siblings lives but continue to love your own and live your own. We and everyone around us, must accept each other and their choices.
Perhaps they do and it’s just me overthinking and not able to let go of the guilt? Someone recently told me that I will always feel the feeling I have as long as my parents are alive, my heart sank, could this really be true? Surely I can get over this with some kind of therapy, I said, laughing out loud. I know that not everyone suffers from guilt at being away from our elderly parents, and it’s not necessarily parents, it could be older children studying abroad, or even a partner that travels a lot and misses all that we associate with children growing up.
Like missing the first day of school because you are on a flight to China. We are all different yet the same, feelings push their way into our minds and sometimes hurt us deeply. A mature friend on mine asked me why it is that I feel the way I do, I was not sure of how to answer her. She said my silence was my “answer”. “That there really isn’t a reason. It’s all in you. Let it go she said, embrace your life and how different it is from you parents and your siblings and enjoy it.
They would if they had the chance. Don’t waste time as that passes to quickly” Wise words. We should all take them on and except and enjoy our trips back home this Christmas. I will enjoy and try and not feel bad for not being there but instead enjoy everything possible while I am there. It is after all what I want to do. We will all be happier if we adopt this attitude. I hope if you feel this way you can let go and relax for your trip and enjoy the season without dread and guilt. Christmas is a happy and wonderful time of the year.
For all the obvious reasons. It is also a time for reflection. What did the year that is drawing to an end give you? What have you learnt? What do you want to change? How can you change it to make things better for you and your family ? Think and start to map things out. Make resolutions. Try and stick to the ones that matter. Be kind and loving to all and most of all love your choices and your life as an expat. As it’s something special and thrilling and different. It shapes you. Enjoy your family and your friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.