A Different Kind of Christmas

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Spending your Christmas far away from your family is not unusual for TCKs, although it does remain surprising to others who have never spent a Christmas away from their loved ones. I still remember the look on my college’s face when she asked where I was spending Christmas. It’s during these kinds of times where you might end up questioning your choices. Although I’ve spent a total of 3 Christmas days away from family in the past 23 years, the most painful one was this year.

I feel that it’s because, as you grow older, you tend to realise how important family is and that feeling echoes in everyone’s hearts whether they are a TCK or not. Especially if you have a religious background, Christmas is a time where you are bound to reunite with the family, no questions asked. The first two Christmas days I spent apart from the family seemed like no big deal.I was used to this whole moving around thing. However, as a TCK, it feels like the more I’ve grown older and have had the possibility to make my own choices as to where I want to live, the more I’ve realised that I could define home as wherever my family was.

This year, I’m about 7,364 kilometres away from home. In a country where it doesn’t snow and where they don’t actually celebrate Christmas. My family got together and had a nice home cooked Christmas dinner. Any regrets? None. It’s painful only because I simply miss them and because, well, I’ve realised how important family is.

When you move around and change cities, countries or school, family is the only constant you’ll have which is why, they’re pretty much your “home”. And you realise that even more when you spend Christmas with a loving family who is extremely close with one another. 

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The 12 Fish of Christmas

By Isabella 

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As a TCK, naturally traditions collide.

On the 8th we decorate the house with lights, holly, ivy and mistletoe, the tree and a nativity set, as time goes on, more and more characters fill the nativity.

December 13th comes la Befana (the good witch) to children, who showers them with gifts, or coal if they have been naughty. Adults just give each other chocolate.

As school holidays begin and there is time before the Christmas rush begins, the family goes to various Christmas markets in Germany and France in search for Scandinavian gnomes (Nisse) to decorate the house with and unique baubles to decorate the tree with, so our collection from Kazakhstan, Poland, the US, Italy and Britain may grow.

My Christmas starts on the 24th, with the appearance of the first star. This is when everyone will sit and have dinner together. This is called Wigilia. Under the tablecloth is hay, essentially from the manger that Christ was born in. No red meat is served under Polish and Italian tradition, only 12 different fish dishes to symbolise the 12 Apostles and beetroot soup. If one was to look around the table, one chair is always empty, in case a lonely wanderer was to be in need of food. This all being tradition in Poland brought to the household by my mother. Who will end the meal with gingerbread cake – Piernik, a favourite.

The 25th starts with the exchange of gifts, but also Italian liquor, Bombardino, traditionally served in the Alps. Then a tour of the presepi, various nativity sets set up by all the towns in Italy and of course we prepare for dinner. This being a mix of Italian and British tradition, naturally we have turkey, mince pies, Christmas pudding, Brussels sprouts, mulled wine, but also pannetone, chicken liver canapés (a Tuscan tradition), polenta and chicken soup. A harmonious British-Italian Christmas dinner, needless to say everyone is happily as stuffed as the turkey.

The 26th all tradition stops and the family happily eat left overs while watching films such as The Grinch and play Christmas music. With any luck snow has fallen and everyone is gathered around the fire content with another family Christmas filled with a range of tradition, new and old.