Up until the age of 18, I had never spent Christmas anywhere other than Mexico or the USA. For me, as for most I assume, it was all about family. All of my uncles and cousins would gather, and we genuinely had an amazing time. Then as I grew up, such gatherings kept getting smaller, but it was only when I moved to France that things took a different turn.
I suddenly found myself figuring out where and how I would spend Christmas without my family. During my first two years here, my mom wasn’t able to come for Christmas, and because of my exams I wasn’t able to go to Mexico either, so things had to change a little bit. I ended up spending Christmas at my best friend’s grandma’s home the first year, which gave me an insight into what Christmas it’s like in a French household. Then the following year I went to England and spent it with another friend and her family, and got to see a little bit of the English traditions.
Now these have been experiences that I’ve genuinely loved, and as an expat, I think holidays are always a pretty particular aspect of the whole experience. It’s interesting, the way in which the same holiday changes around the world.
In Mexico for example, the real celebration comes on Christmas Eve. You may go to church if that’s part of your tradition, then head back home and get everything ready for dinner. When it comes to the meal, there are a few standard dishes you’ll find. In most households: tamales, turkey, cod and “atole” are first on the list. Then of course each family adds its own variations. Now I had the chance to go back home last year for it and relive all of it again, and let me tell you, although my marks at uni didn’t appreciate it that much, I sure did.
However this year it all changes again, I had no more than a few weeks break for Christmas and most of it needed to be spent revising for finals. Hence, this time it was Christmas with friends. You see in France, the order seems to be Christmas with family, new years with friends, so I guess that in a way, I was somewhat respecting that this year. In Mexico we are used to spending both with family, however, ever since living in France I think my friends and I have gotten use to our random little holiday stories, not really knowing where or with whom we might be. But don’t get me wrong though, every single year is a new experience and it’s always nice to see what others might be doing for the same holiday.
To me, it’s pretty amazing to see the way in which people are brought together during this time, and how you can spend a whole day and night with people you just met that day but yet have the best time, because we’re all there for the same reason.