Helping Expats Relocate
SO, how DO we get our family and friends around the table for the upcoming holidays? My kind of family lives in several countries and not everyone wants to celebrate the same holidays on the same day. That would just be too easy! Still, I value having everyone around the table at least once a year even if the actual day we celebrate doesn't match the occasion.
Let me explain. Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. We do not live in a country that recognises this day as a day off work, no matter how many Style sections of a newspaper or magazine feature the food and hand out localised recipes. Learning how to beat loneliness on the actual day has been part of my challenge in overseas living.
Here are three ways we, as a family, have developed this gathering.
1. I have learned that actually, not everyone back in America celebrates Thanksgiving on the day. There are many families that use this day off as travel time and the meal is held on Friday or Saturday. I am not alone! Taking my own motto a little more seriously ("Blessed are the Flexible") helps me to keep a good attitude.
2. Do the shopping on the actual day (as in Thanksgiving on Thursday). This gets me in planning mode, and shopping can always assist with not feeling sorry for myself. I must admit I treat myself to Starbucks Time, and look for American treats to enjoy at the English Tea Time.
3. Invite as many family members who will come, along with friends who may have heard of Thanksgiving and are curious. You could do this for any national holiday, and use it as a time to share your culture's history and food. You are passing on your culture to those third culture kids! Teach a few regular attendees how to make one of the recipes...OK. not a recipe no one wants, but something fun that truly adds to the meal.
Above all ( this could qualify as number 4!), be flexible. You can't duplicate your grandmother's set up for the day but think of it this way, they won't be doing that back home either. Oh, and remember to call home. We once included an adult child overseas by setting up Skype and putting the laptop at the end of the table! Do forewarn them and they, too, can have some special treat ready even if the time difference means they just aren't hungry. As we are redefining "coming to the table," let's gather our families any way we can!