Today’s Tinsel Tale is from Anne-Marie an Australian expat who wears multiple hats: mother, trailing spouse, marketer and recent blogger. Her travelling circus includes a husband, two children and one dog. While her family have travelled quite a lot around the world, they are now doing the ‘ultimate’ travel trip: living as expats. Their adventures and experiences in New Jersey, USA as first time expats in a ‘strange land’ can be found at Expat Aussie in NJ
Christmas in New Jersey
Ahh… it’s almost Christmas; that crazy time of the year. While I’ve always thought Christmas was pretty busy in Sydney, it’s even crazier here in the US. From October to December, we have three big events, one after the other: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. It seems like a three month marathon of eating, events and parties. Lots of candy, lots of pumpkin this-and-thats; and turkey with cranberry sauce.
Aside though from being busier, Christmas here is a bit different to home. It’s certainly more compressed for one thing. In Australia, it always felt that Christmas starting counting down miles ahead. You had just barely gotten over Easter and the weight you put on from eating way too much chocolate, when retailers started to thoughtfully remind you that there were only so many days left till Christmas.
In the US, Christmas doesn’t start full on till Thanksgiving is out of the way, at the end of November. Almost overnight it seems, those Christmas decorations are up in shops and displayed in houses, and everyone is talking about ‘the Holidays’. This more inclusive phrase, is used in the US instead of ‘Christmas holidays’ probably to denote the fact that Hanukkah, the equally significant Jewish celebration, is also celebrated in December. That’s one of the really fascinating parts of life here as an expat – learning new cultural traditions, seeing different ways of everyday life, that we wouldn’t have experienced back home.
Our New Jersey town is very diverse culturally and socially. For most people, it seems there is no set protocol for a ‘traditional’ American Christmas. Some will be eating almost the exact same meal as at Thanksgiving: roast turkey with gravy, mashed potato, green beans and stuffing. Others though, will be preparing an amalgamated mix of cultural food that reflects their country of origin, family roots or their experiences living elsewhere in the USA. This may include anything as diverse as Spanish, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Scandinavian, English, French or Italian food; Southern or other regional food.
Regardless of the menu, the thing we all share at this time though, is that it’s a time to celebrate being together as a family, sharing each other’s company and being thankful for these blessings.
On Christmas Day, our family tradition is a relaxed lunch affair with an Australian menu of roast lamb dinner (we mean lunch when we say this), and a dessert of lamingtons, ice-cream and chocolates with coffee.
One thing I don’t miss about Australia, is preparing this feast in steamy hot weather. A cold Christmas is perfectly wonderful, thank you very much. Now if it will only snow this year, I can cross another big ticket item off my bucket list. Surely, it must be time to dust off that old Christmas tunes CD with the Bing Crosby number?