It’s that time of year again and we are gearing up for Christmas!
I always say to myself, this year I will super organised, this year I will not stress and actually enjoy the lead up to the big day…. of course this never happens! I get stressed out, feel overwhelmed, feel like there is just not enough time to do everything.
Part of this is just how I am, I do tend to stress out about things, part of it is the expectations – we should be having fun, we should be organised, everything should be perfect on the day, I should buy the perfect gifts…. none of this helps to make the day what I really want it to be, a day to relax with family and/or friends. Now, I don’t even have a big family, so my obligations are few and far between, but I still feel the stresses of the season.
Getting away from it all?
I have had a few festive seasons where I’ve flown away from it all. I have spent Christmas in Scotland, Vietnam, Australia and Myanmar. I do feel guilty for leaving family at home, but I’m extremely lucky that they are all very understanding and have been fine with me spending Christmas elsewhere if I’ve wanted to.
And when I have been away I have actually quite enjoyed leaving all of the festivities behind (that sounds really bah humbug doesn’t it!), not even putting up a tree, it’s quite liberating!
Growing up, our Christmases were spent with friends, rather than our families, as we were living overseas in Bahrain. My memories of Christmas from those days are ones of fun, lots of people and lots of laughter…and quite a bit of alcohol (not me I hasten to add, the adults!)!
We would hopefully eat turkey if we could get hold of it, but it was a lottery. Living in a community of airline pilots and employees, we often wouldn’t know who would be around and who wouldn’t, so being flexible was just one of those things and you learnt to live like that.
In Vietnam my friend and I checked into a lovely coastal resort in Mui Ne, which is up the coast from Ho Chi Minh City – a treat to ourselves, as we had been travelling in SE Asia for several months by that point.
On the day, we opted for their version of Christmas dinner which included mash potato – oh my god, I remember loving that mash! It was great mash and something that we hadn’t had in a while!
We decided not to buy a present for each other though, a decision we did regret on Christmas day. It seemed like a good idea at the time, we were travelling for a year and trying to carry as little as possible in our backpacks, so just thought we would scrap presents.
Come Christmas morning, we were lamenting that decision! Just having a little something to open would have been lovely…but hey, we spent the day by the pool in the sunshine – we got over it!
Spending Christmas in Australia was a treat, as we were with my partner’s family. It was again a little strange to be elsewhere, but so very lovely to be in the sunshine!
We had the full on Australian Christmas experience, which was great.
My partner loved being home for Christmas – it doesn’t feel like a proper Christmas when it’s cold and dark apparently! For me, it’s the other way around!!
Myanmar was definitely the strangest of the lot! We had travelled down from Mandalay, via Bagan and Inle Lake and planned to be in Yangon for Christmas day. We had been in Myanmar for a couple of weeks by that point, and had both been ill. So, we decided to book a nice hotel as a treat for one night and we opted for the fancy looking Inya Lake Hotel.
It turned out that it was the hotel where a lot of expats go for their Christmas lunch. When we arrived, the place was buzzing with activity, Christmas lights were up and people were going in for their food…but we were not invited!
I felt a little envious and homesick at that point. But we checked in and were shown to our room and those feelings started to dissipate…oh my god, the room!! It was fabulous and so luxurious after the places we had been staying in. It was gorgeous!
The view from our room was pretty amazing too, we got to see a lovely sunset over the lake.
So, Christmas day for us was spent down by the pool – Christmas lunch was a BLT and samosas! I couldn’t really complain!
A decidedly different Christmas Day lunch than normal!
For dinner we decided to go down to the restaurant – apparently no one else did! We were the only ones in there. It was also a very festive Indian buffet….and for some reason we decided to sit as far away from the food as we possibly could! It was totally comical and one of the weirdest meals I’ve had!
The hotel itself was lovely but pretty deserted, there were people there for lunch and at the pool, but in the evening everyone seemed to disappear.
The next morning on Boxing Day, it was another (if you ever go to Myanmar, be prepared for VERY early starts!) early 5.30am start so we could get to the bus station to catch our bus to Mawlamyine. The hotel very kindly gave us breakfast boxes which we could take with us and which were very welcome by the time we were on our way on the bus!
A fun, alternative Christmas never goes amiss sometimes…however I must admit that I am looking forward to a traditional festive season celebration at home this year. It’s going to be a very quiet one as I will be working around Christmas and New Year, but I am looking forward to spending the day with my family.
Do you celebrate? Where will you be this year? Are you on the road? Or at home?